The following was delivered in the Nova Scotia Legislature on February 27, 2018 by Pat Dunn, MLA for Pictou Centre.
As the Minister said, African Nova Scotians have a long and complex history in Nova Scotia.
That’s why it is so important that we mark African Heritage Month each February.
It gives all Nova Scotians an opportunity to learn about and celebrate African and Black history, and culture.
And to find out about the many contributions made by African Nova Scotians that make Nova Scotia richer and stronger.
It’s important to learn about the struggles and challenges black communities have faced over the last 400 years.
It is also important to celebrate the dignity and the resilience as well.
I would like to take this opportunity to highlight the contributions of Lloyd Arthur States.
Mr. States was born in New Glasgow. He enlisted in the Canadian Army and served with the First Special Service Force during the Second World War.
He was posted to England and became a member of the Special Service Force. He was one of only two black men to be part of that elite group.
Lloyd States earned numerous military honours from various countries, including the American Congressional Gold Medal awarded to him posthumously in 2015.
I know very few of us know Mr. State’s story. But we should. He was an extraordinary Nova Scotian and it is because of African Heritage Month that I learned his remarkable story.
That is the power of setting aside a month to learn and celebrate African Heritage in our province.
To all the individuals, groups and communities that hosted events, raised awareness or held a celebration – I thank you.
These events matter.
They are important in helping us, as a province move forward to combat discrimination and racism.
They help facilitate the change that the Minister mentioned in his remarks.
I am hopeful that we keep these sentiments in mind as we move forward on important issues like boundary review, school board reform and land title claims.
I agree with the Minister that the understanding and education gained each February should not be confined to just 28 days.
I hope we all carry the spirit of African Heritage month every day of the year.
Thank you Mr. Speaker.