African Heritage Month

Students honoured for knowledge of prominent African Nova Scotians

African Heritage Month ends with award ceremony for student work

Allysa Flint says it's, "definitely important for people of African Nova Scotian descent to get recognition."
Allysa Flint wins an African Nova Scotia History Award for her spoken word poem.   Sindi Skenderi

The room of 500 students is hushed as Allysa Flint walks on stage. In her hand, a few sheets of paper that carry the strong and compelling words that tell the story of important African Nova Scotians.

She starts reading and her voice is spirited, rising and falling at parts she wants to stress. Flint is a spoken word artist, and now she has the opportunity to use her talent to show her passion: African heritage.

African Heritage Month is coming to a close, and for its fifth year the Delmore “Buddy” Daye Learning Institute (DBDLI) is presenting its awards for Excellence in African Nova Scotian History.

The awards are given to students from preschool to Grade 12 who submitted pieces about different influential African Nova Scotians and how they contributed to the history, heritage and culture of Nova Scotia.

Flint won the award for the category Express Yourself with a spoken word poem. Flint has been writing poetry since she was 12 years old, and has always dreamt about performing on stage.

This year’s awards ceremony took place Friday, at the Oxford School in Halifax, with submissions coming in from students all over the province.

Flint has been writing poetry since 12 years old
Flint has been writing poetry since she was 12 years old.   Sindi Skenderi

Now in Grade 12 at Prince Andrew High school, Flint stands in front of her mom, an auditorium full of students and the Lieutenant Governor. She voices, through her poem, the African Nova Scotian issues important to her.

“People of African Nova Scotian descent (need) to get that recognition… to get their stories out there, instead of someone else doing it for them,” said Flint.

Tony Colaiacovo, the organizer of the ceremony, said there were over 400 submissions this year, with not much time to review all of them.

“We had four people working 12 hour days, seven days a week. And it took two weeks,” said Colaiacovo.

Students submitted their work in six categories, from essays about notable African Nova Scotians and communities, to a short story, or an expressive piece of art that has been influenced by people of African descent, such as a poem, a song or a dance.

Ava Mainville, a Grade 11 student at Millwood High School, won for her essay on African Nova Scotians’ history with the Underground Railroad. Mainville says it’s important to understand the history.

Ava Mainville won an award for her piece on African Nova Scotians escape from slavery through the Underground Railroad
Ava Mainville won an award for her piece on African Nova Scotians’ escape from slavery through the Underground Railroad.   Sindi Skenderi

“I don’t think people understand how brutal it was to people at the time,” said Mainville. “It really opens your eyes up.”

Each student won a plaque and prize money ranging from $50 to $250.