SPRINGHILL, N.S. – History can be learned in the library or in the home. At kitchen tables, for example. Anywhere – as long as it is remembered.
“African Heritage Month is another opportunity to take pride in those achievements made by African Nova Scotians both past and present and from across the province,” Natasha Gray said. “We’re not looking at just the achievements we see in the media but all those celebrations and stories that our elders and grandparents told us across the kitchen tables. It’s important to keep those stories alive.”
Gray, program administration officer at the Office of African Nova Scotian Affairs, helped kick off African Heritage Month during a recent celebration at the Dr. Carson & Marion Murray Community Centre in Springhill.
“This year’s theme, ‘The Ties that Bind – Faith, Family, Community’ pays tribute to the essential traits that sustain the strength, resiliency and togetherness of the African Nova Scotian community,” Gray, who is originally from Amherst, said. “Without these ties, our communities would not be as vibrant and triumphant as they are today.”
Amherst Mayor David Kogan paid tribute to African Nova Scotians by remembering Amherst native and wrestler Rocky Johnson.
“We lost a very well-known Nova Scotian of African descent when Rocky Johnson passed away,” Kogon said. “He was a perfect example of how you may leave Nova Scotia and make your way in the world, but he always told everybody he was from Amherst. I’m very proud he was from here.”
Theresa Halfkenny paid tribute the Coloured Hockey League, which had a postage stamp issued in its honour during a ceremony in Halifax last month.
Halfkenny talked about the ties between the Coloured Hockey League and the Highland African Methodist Episcopal Church, better known as the AME Church, now located at 234 Church St. in Amherst.
“The Coloured Hockey League was an all-black league featuring teams from across the Maritimes from 1895 to 1930,” Halfkenney said. “Inclusive in the Coloured Hockey League was the Amherst Royals, with players from Amherst.”
Last names on the Amherst Royals roster included Martin, Lee, Ross, Parsons, Cook, Cummings, Izzard, Jackson, Riley, Halfkenney, Jones, Tankard, and Williams.
“Coloured hockey teams were organized by black Baptists and black intellectuals who designed the league as a way to attract young black men to Sunday worship with the promise of recreational hockey matches between the rival churches following the religious services,” Halfkenny said.
She hopes people don’t forget the contributions made to Nova Scotia by the African Nova Scotian community.
“Let us relay the stories to our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren so they will know who we are and what we believe, as we all have a role to play in our community,” she said. “Let us not let this history fade.”
CANSA will host another Coloured Hockey League commemorative stamp unveiling at the Cumberland County Museum on Feb. 20 at 5:30 p.m.