North End Film Night: Take One! was wonderful. Our bellies were filled with delicious snacks from The Soul Shack (THANK YOU so much!) and our hearts were challenged with woes of the past that we’re realizing are still very much a reality today. Through watching Black Mother Black Daughter by Silvia Hamilton and Remember Africville by Shelagh MacKenzie as well as hearing some very helpful insights from a community member with ties to Africville, we gained a deeper appreciation for African Nova Scotian communities as well as hope for a future of healthy neighborhoods.
Before reading any further, why not see for yourself?
https://www.nfb.ca/film/black_mother_black_daughter and here: https://www.nfb.ca/film/remember_africville
Based on the wisdom shared in the films and in discussion during the North End Film Night event, here are a few things that came through, loud and clear.
Africville residents were fine before people from outside the community got involved, with the idea that they knew what was better for the residents than the residents themselves did. They were independent, they were happy, and they weren’t nearly as concerned about their homes being ‘up to code’ as the City was.
“All people need to feel that sense of community, of ownership” was a statement that came from the post-film discussion, which helped us to understand what it is that made Africville such a wonderful place to live.
A sense of community and ownership. That’s the key, isn’t it?
After the question was asked: “How do we move forward, taking in this knowledge about Africville?”, two things were expressed by a wonderful community member in attendance were:
– Refer to Africville as Africville. It’s not Seaview Park or whatever they named it [after they bulldozed it down]. It’s Africville.
– Please don’t limit your curiosity and celebration of African Nova Scotian culture and heritage to one month. It’s not a one-month thing, February just got the title! It also happens to be the shortest month of the year.
The programs, events, projects, businesses, and developments that serve communities best are those that come about from the community, rather than those that are brought to a community.
Going forward, with lessons learned and still being learned from the story of Africville, let’s think about this:
How can we foster a sense of ownership in our communities?
How can we better connect to one another and find that sweet spot of co-dependence with one another, while reducing our independence on outside institutions and businesses?
And- how can we celebrate African Heritage Month every month?