To the MSVU community
August 1, marks Emancipation Day.
“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 marking the first Emancipation Day.” (Source: The Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia)
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.
MSVU remains deeply committed to working within our organization and with community partners to continue to dismantle systemic racism and ensure supports for African Nova Scotians and other African descended learners, scholars and communities.
As part of our implementation of the Scarborough Charter, Delvina Bernard, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Accessibility (EDIA) Advisor at MSVU, is working with the provincial Post-Secondary Advisory Council on African Nova Scotian and Black Students to develop a strategies in support of African Nova Scotian post-secondary students. As well, we have recently committed to the 50-30 Challenge created by the Canadian government and supported by the national Diversity Institute. “The goal of the program is to challenge Canadian organizations to increase the representation and inclusion of diverse groups within their workplaces, while highlighting the benefits of giving all Canadians a seat at the table” (source: Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada).
This spring, we were awarded Recognition Status in the federal Dimensions program to advance equity, diversity and inclusion in research – one of only 10 post-secondary institutions across the country to achieve the designation and the only Atlantic Canadian university. Some of the goals we have already achieved with this work are: increasing the diversity of decision making bodies on campus, dedicated resources to hire an EDIA data collection analyst to collect data, develop metrics and track our progress in supporting Black students, faculty and staff, designated recruitment and hiring of Black faculty, partnering with the NSDPAD office to undertake a campus-wide poster campaign promoting outstanding MSVU alumni of African descent, and many more meaningful activities.
A series of focus groups on Black inclusion was held at MSVU recently towards development of an action plan aimed at enhancing opportunities for students, faculty and staff of African descent. The information gathered is helping to guide the Equity Action Plan that is currently being drafted.
We also recently established an EDIA Hub at the centre of campus to help make our EDIA resources more accessible, including our supports for Black students, faculty and staff. In terms of financial supports, our Black Student Awards Fund continues to help break down financial barriers for Black students.
Most importantly, across MSVU, numerous faculty and staff are involved in research, course delivery and development, support services, and advocacy with a focus on advancing racial justice and eliminating anti-Black racism.
EDIA is all of us. Please take the opportunity to increase your understanding of how our dark history is still impacting many today.
Here’s how you can mark Emancipation Day:
- Join in the morning or evening events being hosted by the city of Halifax at Grand Parade (there’s one at 9 a.m. and one at 6 p.m.),
- Check out emancipationdayns.ca/events for details of events happening elsewhere in Nova Scotia, or
- Visit a museum like the Black Loyalist Heritage Centre in Shelburne, the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia in Cherry Brook and the Africville Museum in north end Halifax.
Dr. Joël Dickinson
President and Vice-Chancellor
Mount Saint Vincent University