A building at the heart of Glace Bay’s Black community will see necessary upgrades, thanks to provincial funding.
Communities, Culture and Heritage Minister Tony Ince announced the Glace Bay Universal Negro Improvement Association hall will receive $25,000 in funding through the Diversity and Community Capacity Fund.
“The Glace Bay Universal Negro Improvement Association hall is a celebrated structure, rich in culture and heritage,” said Mr. Ince. “Preserving such a significant part of our past is very important. This project will ensure the community can continue to come together to proudly tell their stories and pass them down to future generations.”
The hall is valued for its association with the history of the Black community of Glace Bay, and as the current home to the Universal Negro Improvement Association Cultural Museum. The hall serves as a gathering place and community centre, where regular classes and events are held for all ages.
Funding will go towards internal renovations such as creative interpretive displays and tools, and reintroduction of a stage. These upgrades will improve the interpretation of the history of the hall and will share the story of Marcus Garvey, the impact of Garveyism on Glace Bay, and the story of the Black miners’ experience in Cape Breton.
“This is an exciting time for us. This funding will allow us to continue to provide a place for residents of Glace Bay to gather, learn the importance of our collective history, and continue to grow as a community,” said Theresa Brewster, Glace Bay association board chair. “The project, once complete, will not only be key in telling a more inclusive story of the history of Nova Scotians, it will bring to life the history of the Universal Negro Improvement Association movement in Canada.”
The hall was built in 1918 in response to the movement started in 1914 by publisher and activist Marcus Garvey. Mr. Garvey became an internationally known promoter of social, political, and economic freedom for Blacks. In 1914 he founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association in Jamaica. Soon, associations were established throughout the United States and Canada. His philosophy influenced Civil Rights leaders Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. There were once 1100 association branches world-wide, however only about 20 remain today. The hall in Glace Bay is the only original one remaining in Canada.
The Glace Bay Universal Negro Improvement Association works to facilitate positive change on behalf of Nova Scotians of African descent.