African Nova Scotian Seafaring Project

Support Lets All History be Shared, Cherry Brook, Nova Scotia
< Back to all stories

The African Nova Scotian Seafarers Project is working to connect the rich history of Black communities in Nova Scotia, dating back 400 years, to the Seafaring tradition of the province.

The Seafarers Project is creating a travelling exhibit that will move between all 52 historic Black communities in Nova Scotia. The exhibit content will change to reflect the unique history of each community it visits.

When the project started, there was not a lot of existing information on Black communities in seafaring roles in the province. Russell Grosse, Executive Director of the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia said that a lack of information is commonplace when looking at the history of marginalized communities.

“The thing about history and culture that’s associated with marginalized communities like the Black community is that it’s very much history that hasn’t been documented or properly recorded,” he said.

The project research has found that there are connections between the Black communities in Nova Scotia and parts of the United States.

“When we look at the history of African Nova Scotians and People of Colour here in Nova Scotia, it has quite a link to the United States. And when we look at the United States, at one point in Maine in particular, it was noted that there was a higher proportion of Blacks working in seafaring roles than any other culture,” said Russell.

“So, when you look at the lineage between Nova Scotia and the Black communities in the United States and the migration of Blacks into Nova Scotia, it goes without saying that there would definitely be that connection here in Nova Scotia”

Russell believes that the project is allowing history to broaden and increasingly become more reflective of the truth.

“It’s a unique history and a story that’s untold,” he said. “And I think that as we as a province continue to grow and develop diversity in our history and our heritage, we move from history being presented in silos and we look at it as a holistic approach, that its Nova Scotia’s history.”

“I think when we think of us as a province and society in general, to create an opportunity for racial harmony… and for people to learn about, discover and realize that despite all our differences we are not all that dissimilar, that our culture and heritage is what unites us”

Russell says that Support4Culture is helping expand our knowledge on the history and culture in Nova Scotia.

“Without support and programs like Support4Culture, it would be impossible for projects like this to exist”