New official African Nova Scotian flag looking to connect past, present and future

·3 min read
The official African Nova Scotian flag was raised at noon on Monday outside the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia in Cherry Brook, N.S.
The official African Nova Scotian flag was raised at noon on Monday outside the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia in Cherry Brook, N.S.

(Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia/YouTube - image credit)

People living in Nova Scotia will now see the official African Nova Scotian flag flying in the wind outside the Black Cultural Centre in Cherry Brook.

The flag, designed by Wendie Wilson, was revealed to the public Monday in a live stream on the cultural centre's YouTube page.

The idea for an African Nova Scotian flag has been many years in the making, Wilson said, but the flag is being officially recognized for the first time this year.

Wilson came up with the idea when her daughter, now in her final year at university, was researching Mi'kmaw, Acadian, and African Nova Scotian history for a middle-school project.

That's when Wilson, who is a visual artist, realized there was no such thing as an African Nova Scotian flag. So she started researching and designing a flag that could represent her heritage.

Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia/Youtube
Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia/Youtube

Wilson said each colour on the flag symbolizes something different; red for blood and sacrifice, gold for cultural richness, green for fertility and growth, and black for the people.

The design in the middle of the flag is Wilson's stylized adaptation of Sankofa, an ancient Adinkra symbol conceived in West Africa, which signifies the importance of bringing past knowledge to the present.

Wilson's version incorporates a wave, representing the ocean and her ancestors' journey through the Middle Passage. There's also half of a heart with a yin and yang symbol, representing "heartbreak balanced with awareness."

"The image is encompassed within an incomplete circle, representing those things absent but yet to come," she said during the live-streamed event.

Wilson said although the process of making the flag official – reaching out to numerous African Nova Scotian organizations and working with the province's office of African Nova Scotian Affairs – was "daunting," it was necessary.

"I always feel like this was a task that I had to do, for generations past, generations that are still kicking around today, and as a contribution to our future – building back all of our culture that was lost through our various experiences," Wilson said in an interview with CBC.

'Just the beginning'

Karen Hudson, co-chair of the Africentric Learning Institute, said she feels " so privileged and honoured" to be a part of the historic moment.

"This is an opportunity for us to reclaim our own African identity, and to see ourselves in terms of creating our own narrative – our richness, and our uniqueness," Hudson said.

Robert Short/CBC
Robert Short/CBC

Flags of different sizes, as well as lapel pins, are available for purchase through the Africentric Learning Institute and Black Cultural Centre.

Wilson said the flag is "just the beginning," adding it's not only about representation but about legitimizing all the unique aspects of African Nova Scotian culture and history.

She's encouraging other African Nova Scotians to "dive in" and start documenting parts of their culture and history.

"If there is a piece you feel, as an African Nova Scotian, that's missing, create that piece yourself. Don't wait for it to happen," Wilson said.

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

CBC
CBC

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