Amazing Black Atlantic Canadians: book celebrates 50 Black heroes

Click to play video: 'Local writer pens book of Amazing Black Atlantic Canadians'
Local writer pens book of Amazing Black Atlantic Canadians
We chat with Lindsay Ruck about her new book Amazing Black Atlantic Canadians. The book is the second installment in a new illustrated series about Amazing Atlantic Canadians, and features incredible Black citizens from across the region. @nimbuspub @L_Rachelle – Feb 10, 2021

Accomplishments of groundbreaking Black Atlantic Canadians are being celebrated in a new illustrated book.

Amazing Black Atlantic Canadians by Lindsay Ruck features more than 50 stories and was published just in time for Black History Month.

The Nova Scotian author initially pitched a children’s book about the No. 2 Construction Battalion, the first and only all-Black battalion in Canadian military history, from the First World War.

“I learned about it through my grandfather, the late senator Calvin Ruck,” Lindsay Ruck said.

“This was something I wasn’t learning about in schools and I really wanted to create something that kids can have and can learn about Canadian war heroes.”

Read more: Black filmmakers set to shine at the Halifax Black Film Festival

Story continues below advertisement

When she pitched the idea to Nimbus Publishing, Ruck said she was thrilled with the response.

“Nimbus suggested we actually take it one step further and 50-plus stories of other amazing Black Atlantic Canadians.”

Nova Scotian Viola Desmond is on the cover of the book.

Ruck says there’s a lot people who still don’t know about Desmond.

“She has become so well-known, which is wonderful because she did so much not only for our province but for Canada, really.

Click to play video: 'Nova Scotia reimburses court fees, fine paid by civil rights icon Viola Desmond'
Nova Scotia reimburses court fees, fine paid by civil rights icon Viola Desmond

“What some may not know is that she was also a really successful entrepreneur and businesswoman,” Ruck said.

Story continues below advertisement

“She had her own line of hair and beauty products, and she also opened the first school to teach other Black women how to work on other Black hair.”

Ruck said this isn’t the side of Desmond people often talk about — but they should.

“The fact that she was a successful Black businesswoman at that time is really impressive.”

Read more: Black businesses pop up in North End storefronts for ‘Taking BLK Gottingen’

Another face on the cover is 33-year-old Quentrel Provo, a Halifax anti-violence advocate.

“Quentrel is amazing, he’s such an inspiration,” Ruck said.

“His story began because he was fed up with the violence that was happening in his own community. He lost his cousin to gun violence.”

Provo is the founder of Stop the Violence, Spread the Love, an initiative that advocates for peace, ending gun violence and improving the lives of Black youth in Halifax.

The movement started eight years ago following the death of his cousin Kaylin Diggs.

“He did this march through the city and people just gathered,” Ruck said. “It really shows you how compelling he is, and how determined he was to make a difference.”

Story continues below advertisement
Click to play video: 'New Canada Post stamp honours Black settlers to Willow Grove, N.B.'
New Canada Post stamp honours Black settlers to Willow Grove, N.B.

Ruck’s grandfather’s and her father’s stories are also in the book.

“They are two incredible individuals I knew I needed to include,” Ruck said.

“My grandfather told me about the Black Battalion. He was really a historian, a social activist. He eventually went on to become a senator in the Canadian Senate.”

Ruck said Calving Ruck worked hard for basic human rights.

“There’s a story of my father wanting to get a haircut in Dartmouth and he was refused because of the colour of his skin. He was very young.

“And so my grandfather went back to that barbershop and ended up getting the Human Rights Commission involved and eventually that colour-bar was turned,” Ruck said.

Story continues below advertisement

“I think people are unaware that these things were happening in their communities not that long ago.”

Read more: New institute to shine spotlight on Canada’s history of slavery

Ruck said her father always inspired her to keep her head held high.

“He made me so proud to be who I am in my background, and he was the first Black ombudsman of Nova Scotia,” Ruck said.

“He’s fought all these hurdles to get to where he is today and have the success he has today.

 “I really wanted to honour them, and the best way I know how is through writing.”

Other familiar names in Ruck’s book include New Brunswick’s soprano Measha Brueggergosman and Nova Scotian Delmore William “Buddy” Daye, among others.

All illustrations were made by local artist James Bentley.

Sponsored content