Libraries highlight contribution of African Nova Scotians

SOUTH SHORE - This year's African Heritage month provincial theme is: Our Smiles, Our Joy, Our Resilience as African Nova Scotians.

Nova Scotia has 52 historic African Nova Scotian communities with a long, deep and complex history dating back over 200 years. African Heritage Month provides us with another opportunity to celebrate the culture, legacy, achievements and contributions of the African people – past and present.

Schools, organizations and libraries are celebrating the month, focusing in on the contributions of African Nova Scotians to the province.

Ashley Nunn-Smith, the CEO for the South Shore Public Libraries

"I think the month is very important. When you have a population that's based on systemic and ongoing oppression...there are still lots of systems in place that are not equitable and inclusive," she said. "Highlighting accomplishments of African Nova Scotian is important. Maybe in the future, in an utopian world, where there are no oppressed populations and we don't need a pride month or a black heritage month because these are celebrated year-round, but we aren't there."

Nunn-Smith said they continue to working on doing diversity audits in their collections so that minorities are highlighted, or in some way, placed prominently, year-round.

"There's a lot that is still not equal, so it's very important (African Nova Scotia History Month), until that point where it's fully celebrated year-long," she added.

Some activities that have happened already this month included: stories of Viola Desmond readings Feb. 2 and another one will be held Feb. 17 (11 a.m.) at the Margaret Hennigar Public Library in Bridgewater.

"I just think of her story, decades before the story of Rosa Parks, whom everyone associates with social justice. Being told where to sit and where not to. her story is wonderful," said Nunn-Smith. "She was also an amazing entrepreneur when not a lot of women were prominent business owners. We're really happy to highlight her accomplishments."

Feb. 10 was also a short film screening day for youth and adults.

All month long, at all locations, there will be an African History Month scavenger hunt that features 12 Black Nova Scotians. There will be posters of 12 prominent Black Nova Scotians. Anyone can receive a chart to fill out where they are to find 10 specific allocations - for example find an activist, athlete, artist etc. They will search the library and read about the life of each person so they can identify and check off the 10 categories.

There will also be book displays in all of the branches for the month of February that feature books by African Canadian authors and books about African heritage.

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