Visitors to the opening ceremonies today, June 6, at the Black Loyalist Heritage Centre in Birchtown, Shelburne Co., were treated to performances by some of Nova Scotia’s most talented artists, including a reading by Lawrence Hill, author of The Book of Negroes.
“The story of Birchtown was missing in Nova Scotia history,” said Tony Ince, Minister of Communities, Culture and Heritage. “Today, we welcome the Black Loyalist Heritage Centre into the Nova Scotia Museum and begin to close that gap.”
Performers included: JRDN, Jeremiah Sparks, Shauntay Grant, Cyndi Cain, Nova Scotia Mass Choir, Shelley Hamilton, Liliona Quarmyne, Dutch Robinson, Amanda Marshall, Moja Makani, A’drian Scott, Wayn and Khalifa Hamilton, Hillcrest Academy Djembe Group, Hali-SL Dancers and Sylvia Hamilton.
“The Black Loyalist Heritage Centre empowers our community, as we come together to preserve and celebrate a history that has shaped and defined us,” said Gerald Keddy, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade Canada. “On behalf of the Government of Canada, I’d like to recognize and thank all those whose faith, time and resources helped to build this place of honour and remembrance.”
Tours of the centre began at 9 a.m. At 12:30 p.m., John Franklin, from the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institute, talked about the role of museums in building the resilience of Black North Americans by preserving their stories.
A walk from the Black Burial Ground National Historic Monument to the main stage area provided a moment of reflection before the concert, The Journey Back to Birchtown. The performances told the story of the Black Loyalists, from the sale of their ancestors into slavery in the 1700s, to their arrival in Canada, including Birchtown, to their return to Sierra Leone in the 1800s.
For more information about the Black Loyalists Heritage Centre at 119 Old Birchtown Road, near Shelburne, visit http://blackloyalist.novascotia.ca or like the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/BlackLoyalistHeritageCentre .