Ceremonies held to commemorate Black History Month in N.B., African Heritage Month in N.S.

Click to play video: 'New coin honoring Black Loyalists has been commissioned'
New coin honoring Black Loyalists has been commissioned
WATCH: It’s the beginning of Black History Month is New Brunswick and African Heritage Month in Nova Scotia. As Andrew Cromwell reports a new coin honouring Black Loyalists has been commissioned – Feb 1, 2021

Contributions of the Black community are being recognized this month across the country. It’s the beginning of Black History Month in New Brunswick and African Heritage Month in Nova Scotia.

In Saint John, Mayor Don Darling raised a flag in front of city hall. Ceremonies will be taking place in dozens of communities from coast to coast.

Saint John Common Council passed a motion in the summer calling on the provincial and federal governments to make racial discrimination illegal. But the mayor believes there is more the city can do.

Read more: Black history resource site launched for New Brunswick teachers

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“We don’t have a diversity policy… There’s many actions that we can take as a municipality, there’s many actions that the private sector can take,” said Darling. “We can ensure that all of our employees are educated in terms of cultural awareness and diversity training.”

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In a year of much unrest, Black Lives Matter continued a call for more to be done to address systemic racism.

“Addressing those problems, finding out what the main issues are there and moving forward and building realistic action plans to address those,” said Matthew Martin of Black Lives Matter New Brunswick.

There is also a call to go beyond symbolic, albeit important, concessions that have taken place.

“Rhetoric into action, words into deeds,” said Isaac Saney of Dalhousie and St. Mary’s universities in Halifax.

Click to play video: 'Celebrating Black history in Canada'
Celebrating Black history in Canada

“Good speeches must now be translated into important policies and programs… and structural changes, and that’s where the big issue is.”

This year the Royal Canadian Mint unveiled a commemorative coin honouring the Black Loyalists and their contribution to the British effort in the American Revolutionary War. There is a Black Loyalist Heritage Centre in Shelburne, N.S.

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Cynthia Dorrington is a Black Loyalist descendant and says Black Loyalists made a big contribution.

“As soldiers, spies, messengers,” said Dorrington. “They built fortifications. They were cooks and tailors. They served the british by using their trade and skill”

Black History Month, African Heritage Month in Nova Scotia, has been officially recognized across the country since 1996.

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