Dear MSVU students, faculty and staff,
On the eve of the first day of African Heritage Month 2022, I write to remind of the importance of this occasion for celebration, education, and critical reflection, and share news of the many related events planned at MSVU.
The provincial theme for African Heritage Month this year is Through Our Eyes: The Voices of African Nova Scotians. Through first voices we can learn about the long-standing history, culture and contributions of people of African descent in the development of Nova Scotia and Canada. Further, by prioritizing first voices, including the voices of African Nova Scotians who blazed the trail for change, we can best understand the effects of anti-Black racism and continue the critical effort to eradicate it and its systemic permutations.
In November, we made clear MSVU’s commitment to redressing anti-Black racism and fostering Black inclusion by signing the Scarborough Charter. The Charter recognizes key barriers to Black inclusion and identifies concrete actions post-secondary institutions can take to end systemic racism. As we advance this effort at MSVU, I am grateful for the leadership of the university’s Students of African Descent Advisory Committee; Black Student Support Advisor Randy Headley; Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Accessibility Committee; and EDIA Advisor Delvina Bernard.
African Heritage Month events
I encourage you to attend as many of the following events as your calendar allows. All events are being held online and times noted are Atlantic Time.
MSVU African Heritage Month Opening Ceremony
February 1, 2022, 12 – 1 p.m.
Join Dr. Ramona Lumpkin, CM, Interim President and Vice-Chancellor at MSVU, Randy Headley, Black Student Advisor at MSVU, Sylvia Parris-Drummond, CEO of the Delmore Buddy Daye Learning Institute, and Jordan Rolle and Ajoke Lasiende, MSVU students, for the MSVU African Heritage Month Opening Ceremony. Opening Ceremony Event link.
Black and Indigenous Speaker Series: Dr. Charmaine A. Nelson
February 4, 2022, 12 p.m. – 1:15 p.m.
Dr. Nelson is a Professor of Art History and Tier I Canada Research Chair in Transatlantic Black Diasporic Art and Community Engagement at NSCAD University. Her talk, titled He ‘is supposed to have with him forged Certificates of his Freedom, and Passes’: Slavery, Mobility, and the Creolized Counter-Knowledge of Resistance, will be held via Microsoft Teams. Hosted by the MSVU Research Office. Advance registration is required for the Speaker Series.
The No. 2 Construction Battalion: Heroism? Racism?
February 7, 2022, 3 – 4:30 p.m.
Randy Headley, Black Student Support Advisor at MSVU, and Leah Jones, Med in Lifelong Learning practicum student at MSVU, will be joined by a special guest for the recording of an African Heritage Month podcast episode. This podcast will dig into Canadian history to learn more about the No. 2 Construction Battalion, a segregated non-combatant unit that was the first and only all-Black battalion in Canadian military history. Learn one man’s story told through the eyes of his daughter, Sylvia Parris-Drummond, CEO of the Delmore Buddy Daye Learning Institute. No. 2 Construction Battalion Event link
Celebrating our stories – Caribbean stories
February 11, 2022, 12:30 – 1:30 p.m.
The stories we learned as children were steeped in African principles and teachings that guided the young person through life. Across the African Diaspora, stories often present similar teachings, although the characters are different. This session will focus on Caribbean stories, with a discussion to follow. Caribbean stories Event link
Africville Museum virtual tour
February 15, 2022, 1 – 2 p.m.
The Africville Museum invites visitors to walk through the history of Africville, from a thriving village to the community’s dislocation. Africville Museum virtual tour Event link
Celebrating our stories – African stories
February 18, 2022, 12:30 – 1:30 pm
The stories we learned as children were steeped in African principles and teachings that guided the young person through life. Across the African Diaspora, stories often present similar teachings, although the characters are different. This session will focus on African stories, with a discussion to follow. African stories Event link
Black Loyalist Heritage Centre virtual tour
February 22, 2022, 1 – 2 p.m.
The Black Loyalist Heritage Centre tells the story of the world’s largest free African population outside of Africa in the late 18th century in Nova Scotia. Black Loyalist Heritage Centre virtual tour Event link
Celebrating our stories – Canadian stories
February 25, 2022, 12:30 – 1:30 p.m.
The stories we learned as children were steeped in African principles and teachings that guided the young person through life. Across the African Diaspora, stories often present similar teachings, although the characters are different. This session will focus on Canadian stories, with a discussion to follow. Canadian stories Event link
A reminder to students of African descent at MSVU that the Black Student Support Office is here to support you.
Thank you to Randy and the MSVU Research Office for hosting these events. I know there is much work required behind-the-scenes in order to bring them to fruition. As well, kudos to Dr. Tamara Franz-Odendaal, co-founder and lead ally of the Canadian Black Scientists Network, who is in the midst of co-hosting the network’s BE-STEMM 2022 Conference uniting more than 700 attendees to focus on attracting and retaining Black Canadians in the fields of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, medicine and health.
Lastly, I’m delighted to spotlight a YouTube series created by MSVU PhD Education student, social worker and community connector Rajean Willis. Rajean’s talk-show series, called “Our Stories, Our Experiences,” launched last year and seeks to spread awareness of the social issues affecting African Nova Scotians. Topics covered include race-based trauma, the complexities of grief and loss, and Black community development. A successful businesswoman, Rajean was also previously a participant in the RBC Alliance of Young Women Entrepreneurs Program at the Centre for Women in Business where she discussed her idea to host a talk show.
Sincere thanks to our many community members sharing their voices this African Heritage Month. I am grateful for the opportunity to celebrate with and learn from our students, colleagues and broader community members this February and always.
Ramona Lumpkin, CM, PhD
Interim President and Vice-Chancellor
Mount Saint Vincent University