Issue Twelve: African Nova Scotian Women


From the Editor

“I wear it joyfully. I wear it big. I wear it womanly. And I wear it Black. Black. Black. As night, deep and soft and endless with no moon. Just black and perfect splendour in life and in being a woman in this world.”

A Design for Humankind

There it stands–my mothers time-worn loom / Holding life’s sweetness and life’s sorrows / A glorious tapestry of entwined lights and darks! / Threads of all colours harmonizing. / Imagine this as a map of the world….

Four Quilts

These four quilts were crafted by Marlene Dorrington and Myla Borden of the Vale Quiltmakers Collective. Designs by David Woods are based on images collected during travels through Nova Scotian communities.

Finding the Courage to Give Back

In this profession, we often work with clients who are living on the margins, who face adversity every day. But I believe most of us face adversities in life and we have someone, or something, that helps us overcome.

I Am Black History

The story, I am telling, is that my Grade Five teacher accused me of cheating when I got a ninety-seven percent on a history test because “How could a little Black girl really be that smart?” I am Black History….

The Crops / The Chattel

The Crops and The Chattel are part of a series of ten paintings depicting the arrival of an African family to what is now Canada in 1785. The series shows their subsequent contributions to Black history.

Own My Own / That Word

The dull hum, an unruly crowd–a thousand terns / descending. Their outcry fades, that word rises. / Spewed by the Amherst councilman. / Tattooed where the children watch– / at the base of Glace Bay’s skateboard park.

Dear Ugly Duckling….

I write to you because you are too familiar. / Do you not find it strange that I’d seen you, / read you a hundred times before, / but never felt the pain that I now feel? / I did not recognize you then….

We Are Not Made For You

Art is my way of expressing my creativity. I feel it speaks louder than words. It is my belief that we, as a people, all have value; we can pull from the strength of our ancestors as we continue on life’s journey.

Old Whitney Pier

Don’t cross those tracks, / Stay on that side of the overpass. / Whitney Pier? / A place some people feared. / A diverse community with lots of culture. / A Canadian Heritage site like no other. / Welcome to the Pier Dear….

In My Skin

In my caramel-coloured / Five foot, six-inch frame / In my thick thighs / And high round buttocks / Toned arms / Large forehead / Large face / Almond-shaped eyes / Full lips / Laugh lines / Large hands / And high in-stepped feet….

Heart of Africville / Pieces of a Woman

Angel Bonita Gannon is the daughter of a former Africville resident and activist. Her creative interpretations of Africville are dedicated to her family history. She aims to inscribe a new discourse of art that will foster discussion and generate solutions.

Beauty

Beauty your nigger-knots are / unmanageable / we’ll have to comb them down / s t r a i g h t / but they’re tricky with / resilience, they’d rather hang loose / curling up from their roots. / What about braids with pretty beads?

The Unforgettable Journey

My parents were hard-working and resilient people. They put up with many difficulties to send me and my three older sisters and brother to school because education was what kept us busy and eventually paved our way out of the camps.

Daughter of the Sun

This is a very personal piece for me. As a woman living with fibroids, I have researched the overwhelming statistics on the complications fibroids can create for black women, not only in the child-rearing years but also into menopause.

Granny

I am an old woman made of deposited salt / My bloodline runs authentically hot / I hail from perpetual sunrise / Where battle is real and peace treaties are lies / Spent decades on my feet and kept my house clean….

Dear Daughter

What if I told you this world is dark, cold and ugly? / What if I told you your whole life they’ll try and convince, blame and force you into believing it’s you? / What if I told you you’ll be confused and some parts you’ll believe are true?

The Doll

Letitia Fraser is a proud descendant of North Preston and comes from a long line of artists. About The Doll Letitia says: “I wanted to use things that have a connection to my community and my childhood, both of which are a great source of inspiration for me.”

Her Flower

Picasso’s cubism method was captured to depict multiple points of view unified through geometric shapes. I wanted to create a painting that expressed the confidence and perseverance of beautiful black women everywhere!

Imagine

Imagine walking into a space where you automatically feel out of place because nobody’s face is identifiable with your race and / Imagine walking into a store and being watched like a hawk, or getting pulled over by the cops….

Grace and Roberta

Roberta was a terrific axe-woman. She helped split firewood and build shelters. She was also a hunter of wildlife, so she was able to feed herself and Grace with small game, rabbits and birds, and gave what she could to others.

Birchtown / Conversation with Elizabeth Cromwell

The Black Loyalist Heritage Centre has evolved into a tangible representation of our black community–a part of our history and our future that is accessible to all. A history that needs to be seen, heard, recognized and remembered.

On the Hunt for Diverse Stories

I spent that summer reading the shiny new books from cover to cover. But as my interest in reading grew, so did my awareness of what was missing in the books I read: Me. None of the characters looked like me, acted like me, or spoke to my experience.

Conversation with Jade Brooks

A no-holds-barred account of human trafficking in Canada. Author Jade Brooks, now 25, was born in Toronto and grew up in Halifax. At age 11, she was put into foster care and by age 17, found herself lured into the sex trade.

What to Read Next

Books by Wanda Thomas Bernard, Jade H. Brooks, Louise Delisle, Shauntay Grant, Gugu Hlongwane, Sylvia Hamilton, Guyleigh Johnson, El Jones, Wanda Robson, Lindsay Ruck, Wanda Taylor, Maxine Tynes, Gloria Ann Wesley….

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