Black News File

·7 min read

The new provincial PC majority government was sworn in last Tuesday, including the new Minister of African Nova Scotian Affairs, the Office of Equity and Anti-Racism Initiatives, as well as Communities, Culture, Tourism and Heritage — Pat Dunn.

Premier Tim Houston faced questions and criticism for not appointing one of the four Black sitting MLAs from one of the other parties, or an unelected Black/African Nova Scotian to the position(s).

The next day, Houston fired Dr. Késa Munroe-Anderson, the Black Deputy Minister to the departments of Communities, Culture and Heritage and African Nova Scotian Affairs, and replaced her Justin Huston, who is also white.

Houston also fired Dr. OmiSoore Dryden, the first and only Black member of the Nova Scotia Health Authority’s board of directors, when he dissolved the board and replaced it with an all-white, four-person “leadership team.”

This added to the frustrations of many Black Nova Scotians. Black community meetings and group sessions were organized, including one by former Black NDP candidate Colter Simmonds, with more organizing scheduled throughout the coming weeks.

In response to questions about Dunn's appointment, Houston said, "Democracy works best when the people that are elected, are put into positions of accountability and that’s the best way it works.”

Though the next day, Houston was non-specific in his reasoning for replacing Munroe-Anderson with Huston, who is unelected.

When asked for her thoughts on the loss of Black representation in a Nova Scotia Health leadership role in an interview with CBC News, Dryden said, in part:

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Percy Paris, the first Black MLA to hold the position of minister of African Nova Scotian Affairs, spoke to The Examiner this week about his disapproval over the appointment of a white person in his former role. Paris told the Examiner:

After serving in the legislature as an opposition MP since being elected in 2006, Paris was the second MLA appointed as Minister of African Nova Scotian affairs in 2009 when the NDP was elected. PC MLA Barry Barnet was the first Minister of African Nova Scotian when the office was first launched in 2003. At the time, there were no Black MLAs serving in the legislature.

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Applications are now open for a new Saint Mary's University (SMU) scholarship for Black graduating students seeking a career in writing.

The Edna and Velma Thomas Kane award was created CBC's Diggstown creator, Floyd Kane of East Preston. It is named after his mother and aunt.

Speaking with his alma mater SMU, Kane, who once practiced law after earning a degree from Dalhousie University, said:

The award, set at $30,000, is open to graduating students of African descent, with first priority given to students with roots in Nova Scotia. According to SMU, recipients of the award will receive it "upon graduation to help mitigate the burden of financial debt; to support them in further post-secondary studies or training such as internships, apprenticeship, or self-directed projects; and to advance their aspirations for careers in writing."

Kane also spoke with African Nova Scotian CBC Radio host, Portia Clark, on Information Morning where he spoke about the award, his mother and aunt, and how his Aunt Velma gifting him with a typewriter in the seventh grade inspired him to write.

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Film director Olesya Shyvikova and Tracey Jones-Grant spoke with Information Morning's Portia Clark last week to discuss the upcoming documentary that explores the civil rights advocacy of the late Rocky Jones and his late former wife, Joan Jones.

Speaking with Clark, the couple's daughter, Tracey, who appears in the film along with her late mother, said:

The film documents the Joneses who were heavily involved in the civil rights movement of the 1960s, and even brought Stokley Carmicheal and the Black Panthers to Halifax. Said Jones-Grant of her and her siblings' childhood:

Rocky and Joan is scheduled to air at this year's FIN Atlantic Film Festival on September 19 at 3:30pm at Park Lane Cinema in Halifax. Click here to purchase tickets.

You can watch the trailer for Rocky and Joan here:

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A virtual public event takes place tomorrow where Black Nova Scotia author George Elliott Clarke will be discussing his new memoir, 'Where Beauty Survived: An Africadian Memoir', with the province's first Black Lieutenant Governor Mayann Francis.

In part, Amazon describes the book calling it:

The book is currently available for sale online through multiple platforms. Free registration for tomorrow's virtual event, which takes place at 8pm (Atlantic time) is available through the Eventbrite website.

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The Black In The Martimes podcast released a new episode last week where they were joined by Thandiwe McCarthy to talk about his life and thoughts in Atlantic Canada.

McCarthy is poet, writer, and head of the New Brunswick Black Artist Alliance (NBBAA).

On its Facebook page, the NBBAA is described as "a multi-disciplinary non-profit organization, aimed at providing a supportive and safe community for Black artists living in New Brunswick ... Our work is intended to assist a variety of creatives, ranging from emerging artists to professionals."

This week's episode, as well as past episodes of Black In The Maritimes, are available through various links on its official website, blackinthemaritimes.com.

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Last week I was shocked when I read the sad news that one of my favourite Black social media platforms would be shutting down.

The Facebook group Black Canadian Veterans Stories of War has been highlighting the stories of Black Canadian veterans since its creation in 2013.

Founded by public historian and senior administrator, Kathy Grant, the page's information section states, in part:

Grant partnered with Thomas St. Middle School in Peel Region, Ontario to create an official website. The initiative is funded through Veterans Affairs.

Initially, the plan was to shut down the Facebook page and archive it. After much disappointment was expressed from the page's followers following a post informing them of the impending plans, those plans were nixed and the page was brought back online after being taken down for a brief period last week.

A fundraising campaign has also been set up "to further create educational programming and to facilitate workshops" with respect to Grant's work.

The plan is to launch the official website for Black Canadian Veterans Stories of War ahead of Remembrance Day 2020.

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As controversy swirled last week about both the appointment of a white minister of African Nova Scotian Affairs, Pat Dunn, as well as the firings of two African Nova Scotian female civil servants, Dr. Késa Munroe-Anderson and Professor OmiSoore Dryden — the PC federal candidate for Central Nova, which encompasses the provincial riding held by Dunn was on the campaign trail.

"Dropped by to see Foster Elms while canvassing! Thankful for his advice and support," read the caption in Facebook post by Steven Cotter of a picture of him and Elms, a Black elder from from New Glasgow.

Two days later, on Saturday, it was revealed that Cotter had previously made at least four social media posts and comments that expressed hatred towards Muslims and immigrants to Canada.

Cotter apologized via a statement, saying, “In the past I have shared social media posts without thinking about how these posts might hurt or offend others.”

“I have deleted these posts and apologize unreservedly to those I have offended.”

Cotter took a break from campaigning on Saturday and spent time with Peter MacKay, the former MP in the Central Nova Riding, and his family at a local fire department. He posted photos of the visit the next day on social media.

Cotter will remain the Conservative Party candidate in the federal election.

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Matthew Byard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Halifax Examiner

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