To the MSVU community,
August 1 is Emancipation Day.
The first Emancipation Day took place in 1834: “Emancipation Day is the day The Slavery Abolition Act became law in the British Empire (including Canada) and ended the practice of slavery for millions of African People and their descendants around the world. The Act became law on August 1, 1834.” (Source: NS government)
In 2021, the governments of Canada and Nova Scotia officially designated August 1 as Emancipation Day and, in so doing, helped to ensure that our future will be informed by our past. I encourage members of the MSVU community to participate in local Emancipation Day events if you’re able and explore related resources.
We will raise the African Nova Scotian flag and then the Pan-African flag on the Seton Academic Centre at MSVU this August. Designed by Wendie L. Wilson (an MSVU alum, BEd and MEd), the African Nova Scotian flag’s colours represent the sacrifice African Nova Scotian people have endured (red), cultural richness (gold), and fertility, growth and future generations (green). “The symbol at the flag’s centre is Wilson’s own interpretation of the West African Adinkra symbol, ‘Sankofa’.” Her version also includes a wave and a half heart representing “heart break balanced with awareness.” (Source: Africentric Learning Institute of Nova Scotia)
Designed by Marcus Garvey in 1920, “The Pan-African flag’s colors each have symbolic meaning. Red stands for blood — both the blood shed by Africans who died in their fight for liberation, and the shared blood of the African people. Black represents black people. Green is a symbol of growth and the natural fertility of Africa.” (Source: Leah Donnella, NPR)
MSVU is deeply committed to working within our organization and with community partners to dismantle systemic racism and ensure supports for Black learners, scholars and communities.
Last fall, we formalized our commitment to redressing anti-Black racism and fostering Black inclusion as signatories of the Scarborough Charter. The Charter recognizes key barriers to Black inclusion and identifies concrete actions post-secondary institutions can take to end systemic racism. It also includes accountability measures to help institutions take meaningful action.
Recent actions at MSVU include, for example, the University’s participation in the federal Dimensions Program to foster equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility (EDIA) in research (MSVU is the only participating university in Nova Scotia); a dedicated faculty hiring initiative through which we welcomed five new Black scholars to MSVU spanning all of our faculties; and the roll-out of Critical Conversation Workshops in EDIA for MSVU staff which address, among other important topics, the issue of anti-Black racism.
With the advice of the Students of African Descent Advisory Committee at MSVU, EDIA Advisor Delvina Bernard, Black Student Support Advisor Randy Headley and community partners, we will continue to move these and other initiatives forward.
Dr. Joël Dickinson
President and Vice-Chancellor
Mount Saint Vincent University