East Preston community showcases African connection at Canada Day event

Click to play video: 'Dozens gather in East Preston for annual Canada Day event' Dozens gather in East Preston for annual Canada Day event
WATCH ABOVE: Food, culture and heritage were the highlight of an annual Canada Day event held in East Preston, Nova Scotia – Jul 1, 2017

As soon as visitors walked through the doors of the East Preston Recreation Centre on Canada Day, they were met with the spicy aroma of dishes passed down through recipes that span generations.

“We have curry goat, we have curry chicken, we have oxtail, we have pig tails with a nice sauce — it’s passed down by generations. What our forefathers and foremothers did, that’s what we do today,” said Nick Willy, one of the chefs who helped organize the food lineup at this year’s Taste of East Preston event.

Now in its eighth year, the event showcases the area’s African community, which dates back to nearly a century before Canada was founded as a nation.

According to the Canadian Museum of Immigration, Black Loyalists settled the undeveloped lands of Preston with little to no resources in the 1700s.

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Generations later, the vibrant community is working to connect people with its history and unique culture.

“I see this as an opportunity for us to just pause and to recognize this is Canada’s 150th birthday since Confederation — recognizing that we were here prior to Confederation, recognizing that we’ve been excluded and also recognizing that the timing is right for us to experience more full inclusion in every aspect of society in this country,” said independent senator Wanda Thomas Bernard.

Bernard is a community leader and helped found the Taste of East Preston event to bridge the gap between the east-end Halifax area’s different cultures and backgrounds.

“The event started as a way to showcase some of what we do here in this community,” Bernard said.

“People didn’t really have much sense of the culture of East Preston, but this is an event that really helps people get a better sense of the community, of the richness,” she added.

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Those in the community feel that culture is only enhanced when also experienced with others.

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“Come back anytime, and we will share our wares and fares with you,” Willy said.

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