September 15, 2023
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Before I begin, I would like to acknowledge that we are gathering on the unceded territory of Mi’kma’ki, the ancestral land of the Mi’kmaq people.
I’m delighted to be here at the Black Cultural Centre to help mark this milestone 40th anniversary.
For the past four decades, this centre has been a place of change, diversity and acceptance. It has told Black history in Nova Scotia, dating back to the 1600s. But this is not only Black history or Nova Scotia’s history. This is Canada’s history. This is part of our collective story.
Many Canadians are not aware of all the contributions made by Black people to our nation’s growth and successes. Many may not be aware of our country’s connection to slavery. They may not acknowledge the historical and current racist treatment of Black people.
As an Indigenous person, I understand all of this. For too long, Canada’s history did not include our stories. Our narrative. Our perspectives.
But I think our country, and how we tell our history, is evolving. I certainly see a young generation that is open to – in fact, embracing — stories from all peoples. Slowly, together, and we are revising our understanding of how our country was built. And who built our country.
These are your stories…
…Stories of the Black loyalists who arrived in Nova Scotia after the American Revolution.
…Stories of the No. 2 Construction Battalion, the first all-Black labour battalion, whose members bravely served during the First World War.
…Stories of young people and elders. People who are here with us today, who have passed down the stories of their lived experiences one to another.
I’m honoured to be here to learn from you, about you.
It’s so meaningful and important to preserve one’s history, and for that history to be shared in the first person. This place has given you the chance to discover and tell your history, rather than it being told for you.
I want to congratulate everyone here on this milestone and thank you for your efforts to preserve Canada’s history.
I wish all of you the very best for the future.