Achievements of black seniors celebrated in East Preston

Dozens of black seniors from across Nova Scotia gathered at the East Preston Recreation Center on Thursday to mingle, eat and be celebrated, in an event called Celebrating Resilience.

Organizers say they held the event to recognize the contributions of black seniors in the community and show that their accomplishments will not be forgotten.

“We’ve been here for many years, and you know we’ve been through so much lately,” said Dolly Williams, chair of East Preston Seniors Club and one of the organisers.

“I think it was a great way to get people out to have fun and celebrate the resilience of seniors.”

She says they paved the way for the younger generations to come.

Dolly Williams is a well-known author and community leader from East Preston who helped organize the event. (David Laughlin/CBC)

Most of the participants were over 80, Williams said, with some in their 90s and 100s.

Husband and wife Barbara and Peter Clayton said they were happy to be there so they could mingle with others, but also because they felt a duty as elders to be part of the ongoing discussions in the black community.

“One thing we have to learn is that we have to support each other or else nothing will happen and if things don’t start happening in the communities, it’s not any stranger’s fault – it’s It’s our fault in the communities,” said Pierre Clayton.

African and Afro-Canadian art was on display at the event. There were also quilts, slippers and dish towels made by older members of the black community, available for purchase. (David Laughlin/CBC)

“That’s why we represent and go to functions and stuff to see what happens.”

Clayton said it was good to see young people at the event as well because “we can all learn from each other”.

Genevieve Howe, another senior member of the community who attended, said she was delighted to see the event in East Preston as there aren’t many in the area.

“I thought it would just be a wonderful thing to come and see what’s going on, and I’m glad I came because so far it’s just been exciting to be here.”

Williams says the chicken dinner with gingerbread dessert was cooked and served by other members of the community because “they wanted to do it all themselves.”

Halifax Regional Municipality David Hendsbee, representing Preston, Chezzetcook and Eastern Shore, and Halifax Peninsula North Coun. Lindell Smith were both present as well as Associate Deputy Minister for Seniors and Long-Term Care, Tracey Barbrick.

Mayann Francis served as Nova Scotia’s 31st Lieutenant Governor from 2006 to 2012. (David Laughlin/CBC)

Mayann Francis, former Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia, gave the event’s closing remarks.

She said it is important to remember the ancestors who came before us.

“If we look back on our history, you’ll see how strong the black community was and still is,” Francis said.

“As I always say, I stand on the shoulders of our ancestors…look how they fought for justice, look how they could have been first in an organization or how well they did. So keep that in mind and don’t lose this.”

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

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