Recognizing African Heritage Month & Resources

On January 26, the Province launched 2021 African Heritage Month where, during the month of February, we celebrate and honour the culture, history, and traditions of people of African descent. This year, the theme is Black History Matters: Listen, Learn, Share and Act, in recognition of the important legacy and important contributions of people of African Nova Scotians, Black Canadians, and their long-standing history in the development of Canada.

The 2021 African Heritage Month poster, Black History Matters: Listen, Learn, Share and Act,

When we learn, listen, share, and act together, change is possible. Sharing knowledge, meaningful stories, celebrating, and acknowledging together that Nova Scotia is the birthplace of Black Presence and its history will inevitably bring about necessary change and form lasting bonds. Watch the virtual opening ceremony on YouTube.

Our Equity & Access Office has compiled the following African Heritage Month resources:


The Hanging of Angelique – The untold story of Canadian Slavery and the burning of Montreal

By Afua Cooper

The professor of sociology at Dalhousie University in Halifax tells the story of Marie-Joseph Angélique, a slave woman convicted of starting a fire that destroyed a large part of Montréal in the 1700s. The work challenges the idea of a slavery-free Canada by way of documenting cases of legally and culturally endorsed slavery in the country. 

Queer Returns

by Rinaldo Walcott

Rinaldo Walcott takes a look at categories of “queer and Black” and “Black queer” through the lens of multiculturalism and Canadian identity. The essay collection reflects on how capitalism, colonialism and sexual identity intersect and shape culture, politics and Black expression. 

Policing Black Lives

by Robin Maynard

Montreal-based author and activist Robyn Maynard’s Policing Black Lives traces the underreported modern and historical realities of anti-Blackness within a Canadian context. Maynard examines the fact that slavery occurred in Canada for more than 200 years and that enslaved Indigenous and Black individuals were responsible for developing infrastructure for white Canadian settlers in the 17th and 18th centuries — and how that legacy has defined institutionalized racism today. 

Viola Desmond’s Canada

by Graham Reynolds

The story of Viola Desmond, the next face of Canada’s $10 bill, is told in this comprehensive work by academic Graham Reynolds. Desmond, the civil rights pioneer from Nova Scotia, was jailed in 1946 for sitting in the whites-only section of a New Glasgow, N.S., movie theatre. The book highlights this act of resistance by way of an contextual overview of the Black experience in Canada, from slavery under French and British rule in the eighteenth century to the practice of racial segregation and the fight for racial equality in the twentieth century. 

North to Bondage: Loyalist Slavery in the Maritimes

By Harvey Amani Whitfield

Many Canadians believe their nation fell on the right side of history in harbouring escaped slaves from the United States. In fact, in the wake of the American Revolution, many Loyalist families brought slaves with them when they settled in the Maritime colonies of British North America. Once there, slaves used their traditions of survival, resistance, and kinship networks to negotiate their new reality. Harvey Amani Whitfield’s book, the first on slavery in the Maritimes, is a startling corrective to the enduring and triumphant narrative of Canada as a land of freedom at the end of the Underground Railroad.