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Canadian Government Invests One Million In African Canadian History Education

The three-year project, called A Black People's History of Canada, will be led by award-winning historian and Dalhousie University Professor, Dr. Afua Cooper, as Principal Investigator. Photo courtesy of Dalhousie University.

Canadian Government Invests One Million In African Canadian History Education

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia, (Thursday, April 8, 2021) — Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Canadian Heritage, along with Andy Dellmore, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities and Member of Parliament (Halifax), announced, today, funding, of $1,031,565, for Dalhousie University’s three-year project, intending to fill a gap in African Canadian History Education.

“Building a more inclusive and equitable Canada is a multi-generational task that must include teaching our youth about the struggles and triumphs of groups, whose stories and perspectives have been historically underrepresented in our education system. This funding will help ensure that the rich history of Black Canadians is taught, celebrated and informs the next generation of leaders in social justice,” opined Fillmore.

Led by award-winning historian and Dalhousie University Professor, Dr. Afua Cooper, as Principal Investigator, this new project, called A Black People’s History of Canada, will support leading Black history scholars and organizations, to create engaging, new, classroom-ready learning materials and digital media about the history of Black Canadians.

Canadian Heritage Minister Guilbeault proclaimed: “Our government is proud to support the development of learning materials, activities and networks that will give all Canadians the opportunity to enhance their understanding of Black Canadian history.

“This project will also showcase passionate historians, award-winning writers, speakers and artists, which will shed some light on the incredible contributions of Black Canadians thorough our history.”

Additionally, the Canadian government said, in a media release, today, that it is committed to “giving Canadians opportunities to learn about our many cultural communities, like the African Canadian community, that helped build a strong and vibrant Canadian society.”

These new learning materials, in English and in French, will target Canadian teachers and students in elementary and secondary schools, across the country, aiming to mobilize educators and Canadians, through workshops and conferences, with materials, promoted through social media. The materials will be available, through the project website, and a network of professional, community, institutional and government partners.

“On behalf of Dalhousie University, I would like to congratulate Dr. Afua Cooper on this latest recognition of her excellent scholarship, expertise and many outstanding contributions to African Canadian History. The generous support from Canadian Heritage will be instrumental in filling a critical knowledge gap in schools across the country.

“Dr. Cooper has already made immense contributions at Dalhousie and nationally, and we look forward to seeing the continued impact of her important work that will be supported through this funding,” commented Dr. Frank Harvey, Provost and Vice President, Academic (Acting), at Dalhousie University — one of Canada’s oldest universities, which attracts more than 19,000 students, from around the world.

In addition to Dr. Cooper, the project team is comprised of other well-known, award-winning historians, researchers and writers, including: Dr. Karolyn Smardz Frost as Project Manager; Natasha Henry, educator and President of the Ontario Black History Society (OBHS); as well as Adrienne Shadd.

All content in the project will be developed and evaluated, in consultation with leading educators, community organizations and government agencies.

Nova Scotian provincial politicians also lauded the project: “As Member of Parliament for several of Nova Scotia’s historic African Nova Scotian communities such as North Preston, East Preston, Lake Loon, Cherry Brook and Lake Major, I am incredibly pleased to see our government investing in projects like this, which will provide accessible and engaging information to teach all Canadians the significant role Black Canadians played in our nation’s History,” said Darrell Samson, Member of Provincial Parliament for Sackville–Preston–Chezzetcook.

And Tony Ince, Minister of African Nova Scotian Affairs and Minister responsible for the Office of Equity and Anti-Racism Initiatives, chimed in: “People of African descent have a history in Nova Scotia and Canada that dates back more than 400 years.

“This project will help with the important work of ensuring that all Canadians know the full history of Black Canadians—a history full of resilience, determination and triumph.”

Dalhousie University publicly-demonstrated its commitment to teaching and learning about Black History, when it launched the first Black Canadian and African Diaspora Studies program in Canada, and the James R. Johnston Chair in Black Canadian Studies.

“For too long, Black people’s history in Canada has languished in spite of the 400-year presence of Blacks in this country. Our project, which is for three years, will fill the lamentable gap in African Canadian history education. Researching, writing, conceptualizing, and teaching Black history in a comprehensive manner will produce a seismic shift in African Canadian knowledge mobilization,” concluded Principal Investigator Dr. Cooper.

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