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Celebrating black excellence: African Heritage Month heritage celebration rebranded as Soul Gala

The Mark Riley Project will play at the Soul Gala event celebrating Africentricity in the Annapolis Valley Regional Education Centre and area as a whole on March 2 at the Old Orchard Inn in Greenwich. - Grend Pré Winery
The Mark Riley Project will play at the Soul Gala event celebrating Africentricity in the Annapolis Valley Regional Education Centre and area as a whole on March 2 at the Old Orchard Inn in Greenwich. - Grend Pré Winery - Contributed
GREENWICH, N.S. —

An Annapolis Valley African Heritage Month event has been rebranded to further celebrate and showcase Africentricity and achievements of people of African descent in the region.

This is what Krishinda McBride hopes people take away from this year’s inaugural Soul Gala – a dinner and dance event previously known as Rally in the Valley – which is co-ordinated and hosted by the Annapolis Valley Regional Centre for Education’s student support worker program.

McBride is the the centre’s Race Relations, Cross Cultural Understanding & Human Rights (RCH) program co-ordinator and says the event is both to bring community together and to celebrate and acknowledge “the many accomplishments of people of African descent in the Valley region as a whole.”

“We just really want to bring our community back together and recognize what the AVRCE is doing to highlight Africentricity,” says McBride.

The event will launch the the Viola Desmond Award, a student bursary program providing financial aid for students heading to study at post-secondary institutions, along with a presentation and music from the East African drumming group Legacy for a New Generation and a performance from local soul heroes the Mark Riley Project.

McBride says the event is also about acknowledging that black excellence has a longstanding history in the Annapolis Valley – from Civil War veteran Ben Jackson to Canada’s first-ever black female mayor Daurene Lewis – and is a significant part of Nova Scotia’s history as a province.

“There’s a lack of awareness and understanding of the important contributions African descent people have made to the Valley region, to Nova Scotia and all of Canada throughout their histories. From civil rights pioneer Edith Cromwell to current filmmaker Sylvia Jackson to retired Senator Donald Oliver – these are parts of everyone’s history, not just folks of African descent,” says McBride.

“This will be about breaking down barriers to come together and celebrate our stories, and the everyday people here doing amazing things in promoting African Nova Scotian communities,” says McBride.

The gala will be held March 2 at the Old Orchard Inn starting at 6 p.m. For more information, contact RCH@avrce.ca.

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