National Black Canadians Summit coming to Halifax in July

·3 min read
The Connecting The Dots group is shown at the National Black Canadians Summit in 2019. Black communities and allies from across Canada will gather in Halifax this summer for the third version of the summit. (Tristan Barrocks - image credit)
The Connecting The Dots group is shown at the National Black Canadians Summit in 2019. Black communities and allies from across Canada will gather in Halifax this summer for the third version of the summit. (Tristan Barrocks - image credit)

Black communities and allies from across Canada will gather in Halifax this summer for the National Black Canadians Summit.

It is the third in a series of summit events organized and hosted by the Michaëlle Jean Foundation.

DeRico Symonds, the local community organizer and co-chair of the summit, says the event has been in the works for the past two years.

"To have the convergence of Black folks from across the country and as well internationally coming to Nova Scotia means a lot," said Symonds, the co-founder of non-profit organizations ACCE HFX and GameChangers902. He also works with Nova Scotia's Office of Equity and Anti-Racism Initiatives.

"We're really highlighting the contributions and successes that we've had here as African Nova Scotians, but, as well, looking to conquer the challenges that we are experiencing."

In an effort to mobilize and bring together Black Canadians, the Michaëlle Jean Foundation launched the initiative.

1,000 participants expected

The first summit was in 2017 in Toronto. The second was in Ottawa in 2019.

The summits typically offer participants the opportunity to share their own experiences, meet with civil society organizations and financial and academic institutions as well as decision-makers from the both private and public sectors.

About 2,500 participants attended the first two events. More than 1,000 attendees are expected this summer.

Tara Lapointe, the executive director of the Michaëlle Jean Foundation, says Halifax was chosen because it was important for the summits to speak to different realities within the Black Canadian experience.

"The African Nova Scotian experience is one that is not really well known outside of the maritime provinces … there was so much passion and energy coming out of Nova Scotia, that we just knew that that's where our next event had to be."

Working with grassroots groups

Symonds said he's been working for the past couple years with local grassroots organizations, Halifax Mayor Mike Savage as well as Black Businesses in the province in preparation for the summit.

Additionally, he said, summit organizers hope to have multiple things for people to do, including watching films and shopping.

"We're looking at having a potential room where Black films are being played … so that folks are able to go in and get some of that history," said Symonds.

"We're also looking at the idea of having Black businesses and organizations sort of lining the hallway so as we're walking through, you're able to make purchases and able to learn about some of the businesses and organizations."

Steve Daniel
Steve Daniel

This year's event will be live streamed and take place at the Halifax Convention Centre. Public Health protocols will be mandated.

"Right now we require that participants are double vaccinated," said Lapointe.

Admission ranges anywhere from $150 to $1,000. Lapointe said 400 youth will be able to attend free of charge.

"Our youth delegates between the ages of 18 and 30 can register for free on our website because we want to make this highly accessible and very inclusive."

Symonds said delegates will be invited to take part in the summit and share their experiences.

Details to be completed

"To have young people there to share and lend their voice is going to shape the conversations in a dynamic way as well provide us with current and relevant feedback for suggestions and solutions."

As of now, Lapointe said some elements are still being planned. But the expectation is to announce details about panel discussions and keynote speakers in the coming months.

Symonds said he's excited to see what this year's summit will bring and hopes attendees are able to not only get to know each other but learn as well.

"I really would like people to take in the time in Halifax and get to know the African Nova Scotian communities and learn some history so that we leave here feeling more connected."

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

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