Creating unity and helping where she can: Meet Lorraine Reddick

Lorraine Reddick
Lorraine Reddick

Editor’s Note: As we celebrate African Heritage Month in February, we’re proud to spotlight some of our own people, Black culture, contributions, and history. Here, we meet Lorraine Reddick, who is a member of StFX’s President Action Committee on Anti-Racism (PACAR) and is an African Nova Scotia Student Support Worker at Dr. John Hugh Gillis Regional High School. She was also co-emcee of the Town of Antigonish’s African Heritage Month launch held at StFX. A mother of four, grandmother of 17, and great-grandmother to five, family is important to her—as is helping to make a difference where she can. 

Creating unity and helping where she can: Meet Lorraine Reddick

Whether she is working in her job as African Nova Scotia Student Support Worker with the Strait Regional Centre for Education (SRCE), volunteering as a member of StFX’s President Action Committee on Anti-Racism (PACAR), or in her life as a mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, Lorraine Reddick always has one theme in mind: unity. 

For the past two decades, Ms. Reddick has been mentoring and supporting students and working to increase cultural awareness at schools throughout Antigonish County in her position with SRCE. She currently works at Dr. John Hugh Gillis Regional High School in Antigonish, where, among other responsibilities, she works to ensure all students are more aware of different cultures and the importance of appreciating other people’s differences. Particularly, she works hard to make sure that students of African Descent are reaching their full potential.

What does she like best about the role? 

“The idea of making a difference in the students’ lives and the mentorship,” she says.

“I grew up in a time when there were a lot of elders around us, who could tell us right from wrong and share the past. A lot of the younger kids don’t have that example to follow.”

At StFX, Ms. Reddick is a community member on PACAR and is a 1994 graduate of the Coady Institute, earning a diploma in social development. She is a two-time graduate of the Nova Scotia Community College, with diplomas in communications and in child and youth studies. She’s also taken some English and sociology courses at StFX and was a keynote speaker at the annual Dr. Agnes Calliste African Heritage Lecture.

She was a driving force behind the establishment of the Town of Antigonish’s annual African Heritage Month. This year, she co-emceed the launch event at StFX. She’s a board member of the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia. 

Building community is important to her. She loves meeting people. She enjoys continued learning. And she recognizes the importance of representation. 

“Too often things are done for us, without us,” she says. “I want to be sure we’re at the table. If it’s not me, then someone who looks like me should be at the table.” 

Becoming involved and working together also helps bring about unity. 

“I believe in unity and helping out where I can,” she says. 

Growing up in nearby Upper Big Tracadie, a small black community, where she today remains a member of the Tracadie United Baptist Church, Ms. Reddick says she was inspired by her family.  

“I come from a long line of hard workers, including my mother, Dorothy Daye, and my grandmother, with whom I spent a lot of time. My resilience and perseverance come from my family.”

She married at age 18 and moved with her late husband to Antigonish, where they raised four children. They now have 17 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. “Family is the most important,” she says, proudly sharing the success and achievements of her children.     

“All four of my children went on to post-secondary and three of them are alumni of StFX. A highlight of this year will be seeing my daughter graduate from StFX with her Bachelor of Education degree alongside my grandson who is graduating from StFX with his Bachelor of Arts degree in May.” 

Ms. Reddick says throughout her life, times weren’t always easy. In her early years of her education, she attended segregated schools. She struggled, she experienced negativity and racism. But she always kept moving forward.     
African Heritage Month and the awareness it brings is critical, she says. Equally important is celebrating the achievements, history, and culture of African Nova Scotians throughout the year.  
“When I went to school, I didn’t learn anything about my culture,” Ms. Reddick says. If she did hear anything, it was always negative. 

Even now, she says she is still learning about her culture. 

“I feel proud of the achievements, and proud of where we came from.”  

Ms. Reddick says she would like to see more black authors or more musicians, more activity in the local community during African Heritage Month and throughout the year to help build awareness in the community. 

Seeing such events and role models gives black youth the encouragement they need to reach their full potential, she says.

“You’re going to face some roadblocks, but you can’t give up. Being proud of yourself and your culture is important and how you relay that into knowing how to cope, to excel, and to be someone.”