Black History Month

By: The Hon. Wanda Thomas Bernard

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Hon. Wanda Thomas Bernard: Honourable senators, I rise today to deliver a statement for Black History Month. I’m grateful to be able to do this on this unceded and unsurrendered Algonquin Anishinaabe territory.

This year’s national theme for Black History Month is “Black Excellence: A Heritage to Celebrate; a Future to Build,” and Nova Scotia’s African Heritage Month theme is “Our Smiles, Our Joy, Our Resilience as African Nova Scotians.”

Heritage, future, resilience and joy: These themes are intertwined due to the heritage and the future of Black people in Canada being built upon a collective spirit of survival and resilience. Resilience that despite all the structural and systemic barriers we have faced, Black Canadians continue to live lives of excellence, continue to find joy and to make a mark on Canadian history. Our heritage of excellence exists in all spheres including the arts, music, education, politics and sports. As we look to the future, I am filled with joyful anticipation. I am excited when I think about the possibilities for Black Canadians and excited about the important work possible here in this place to address systemic and institutional racism.

This Black History Month is a celebration of joy and the triumph of the human spirit. On that note, I would like to congratulate the community of North Preston on its two hundred and fortieth anniversary. North Preston is the largest historic Black community in Canada and one of the 48 Black communities still standing in Nova Scotia. North Preston is adjacent to my home community of East Preston. It has survived and thrived despite not being set up for success, since it was established on such undesirable land. This survival alone is cause for joy and celebration.

I want to thank all of my colleagues for your statements recognizing Black Canadian history. We can continue to work together to build a future that we can be joyous about and a future that we can be proud of. After all, Black history is Canadian history. It is “A Heritage to Celebrate; a Future to Build.”

Asante, thank you.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

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