Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

Lift every voice: Joy, celebration, and a call for continued action highlight African Heritage Month launch

February 1st, 2023
Kenyatta Boakye sings the Black national anthem, Lift Every Voice, as the Pan-African flag is raised during the community launch of African Heritage Month held in Bloomfield Centre on Feb. 1, 2023. The Town of Antigonish, in partnership with StFX, hosted the annual event. 

Joy, celebration, and a call for continued action to move forward highlighted the community launch of African Heritage Month on February 1st, as the Town of Antigonish, in partnership with StFX, hosted the annual event in StFX’s MacKay Room, Bloomfield Centre. 

“This is indeed an important day,” said Tara Reddick, preservice teacher candidate and StFX Black Student Advisor (along with Amelie Gero), who with StFX education professor Dr. Wendy Mackey emceed the event. 

Ms. Reddick recalled that as a young girl she didn’t learn about Black history in school nor were there any African Heritage Month launches. While there has been movement toward inclusivity and celebrating the rich history of African Nova Scotians, who have called this province home for over 400 years, there is still much more work to do, she said. 

“However, what a joy it is to be here.” 

It’s time to embrace, to learn, to celebrate and to be inspired by the many achievements of Black Nova Scotians. With all the injustices still inherent in today’s society, we know we need to still march on, she said. But there are small victories each and every day. We need to make sure our youth feel like they belong, that they can feel proud, that they feel love and empathy all year round.  

The African Drumming Group helped open and close the ceremony

“Today, it’s an honour to be here and to see Black teachers sitting in front of me, and to see future teachers,” said Dr. Mackey, who too noted how important it is to learn more about the history of Black Nova Scotians, to recognize their contributions, their legacy and their struggles. 

Dr. Mackey said she is honoured to be here at the celebration, and to work at StFX where we get to celebrate the great history of Black people, especially when senior leadership is striving to make changes. She also issued a challenge to all, to amplify the voices of the elders in this community, to share the great history, and to help make all feel like they belong. 


“What an absolute joy to be here today to be part of this,” StFX President Dr. Andy Hakin said as he thanked all in attendance for being there, for showing that they are present. 

“It is important that we collectively embrace this shared history we have,” he said. 

This month, it is important that we take the time to listen and to share, to increase our awareness and to strive for full and equal participation, he said. “This is a time to reaffirm our commitment in this.”

Use this month as a time to learn, as we all have work to do to work toward inclusivity. 

The Pan-African flag was raised at StFX's Alumni Flag Plaza

During the ceremony, StFX student Leah Pink, Dean of Science Dr. Joe Apaloo and StFX faculty Dr. Jonathan Hood raised the Pan-African Flag. 

Antigonish town councillor Andrew Murray, representing Mayor Laurie Boucher who couldn’t be in attendance, and Antigonish County Warden Owen McCarron, gave remarks and read the proclamation.  

We learn so much from talking to one another, and that is a key component of understanding and celebrating our province’s full history, Warden McCarron said. Together we can reflect on the past and learn how to move forward to the future, Mr. Murray said. 

Fourth year health student Aliyah Fraser, a Deveau Scholar, X-Women basketball player, and an Academic All-Canadian, read the opening prayer. 

Lorraine Reddick, Student Support Worker at Strait Regional Centre of Education (SRCE), who received a standing ovation from the crowd for all her contributions in advancing anti-racism, brought greetings. 

Messages were read during the ceremony from Antigonish MLA and Minister of Health and Wellness, the Hon. Michelle Thompson, and video greetings were received from the Hon. Pat Dunn, Minister of African Nova Scotian Affairs. 

In addition, local SRCE school children were in attendance for the ceremony, and Father Stan MacDonald blessed the food enjoyed at the conclusion of the ceremony. 

Kenyatta Boakye sang O Canada and the Black national anthem, Lift Every Voice. The African Drumming Group opened and closed the ceremony. 

This year’s African Heritage Month provincial theme is Seas of struggle – African Peoples from Shore to Shore. It outlines the struggles people of African Descent have faced from the shores of Africa to the shores of Nova Scotia while recognizing the one thing that has remained constant in our history is the Atlantic Ocean. 

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