“Marking” Identity and Respectability: Halifax’s African School and Scholars of the Needle

Wednesday, May 17, 2023, 7:00 pm (Atlantic), Halifax Central Library (Lindsay Children’s Room) or click here to join online via Zoom 


Lisa Bower: Assistant Curator and Registrar (Cultural History), Nova Scotia Museum

Abstract: Embroidered pictures composed of text and images known as “samplers” were commonly produced by nineteenth-century white settler schoolgirls across Nova Scotia. A remarkable example made in 1845, by a student at Halifax’s African School, proves the practice was also a part of the Black schoolgirl experience. Samplers changed over time and served multiple purposes. Needlework instruction and production became a paradoxical experience for its students, particularly for young Black Haligonians, simultaneously representing oppression and empowerment.  

Click here for a bio of Lisa Bower

Top of the Table Living Archives: Interrupting the Erasure of Black Being

Wednesday, April 19, 2023, 7:00 pm (Atlantic), Halifax Central Library (Lindsay Children’s Room) and online via Zoom 


Dr. Lynn Jones   

Abstract: This title unpacks the seemingly unorthodox and unfamiliar location of what we understand to be an archive – in this case – a dining room table. Starting from this location, the evolving archive documents a compilation of Black life gathered from past and present situations locally, nationally, and globally. This is an extraordinary attempt to ensure the invincibility of this distinct people’s experience. Lynn donated over 50 years of materials she personally collected on the history and experiences of Black People in her family, her community and locally, nationally and internationally which is now housed at St. Mary’s University and utilized by scholars, students and community from near and far. Today, she will bring to light, her impetus leading to the creation of the “Lynn Jones African Canadian and Diaspora Heritage Collection.”

Click here for a bio of Lynn Jones

“He Who Is Reluctant to Recognize Me Opposes Me”: Self-Determination, Recognition, and Revolution Between the Black United Front and the Canadian State

Wednesday, March 15, 2023, 7:00 pm (Atlantic), Halifax Central Library (Lindsay Children’s Room) or online via Zoom 

Evan Jennex: Master’s Student, Dalhousie University  

Abstract: On November 30th, 1968, over 400 Black Nova Scotians met at a North-End Halifax library to discuss the creation of a self-deterministic, activist organization called the Black United Front (BUF). Between 1969-1996 the Black United Front held Black cultural events, promoted Black businesses, and highlighted racial barriers present in Nova Scotia. This research analyzes the actions of BUF, focalizing on the relationships between BUF and State institutions that attempted to shift the organization’s direction and activism. 

Click here for a bio of Evan Jennex

The Marshall Indecision

Wednesday, February 15, 2023, 7:00 pm (Atlantic), Halifax Central Library (Lindsay Children’s Room) and online via Zoom  


Brady Paul: Indigenous Student Advisor, Master’s Student, Saint Mary’s University 

Abstract: The colonial bias that motivated aggressive expansion and control in Canada is still prevalent today. The Marshall decision (1999) is a prime example of how the Canadian Federal and Provincial governments still view Indigenous people as “inferior”.

Indigenous sovereignty has been infringed upon since contact with Europeans. The complete disregard for Indigenous Nationhood is not only a historical issue, but a contemporary one. Indigenous autonomy over everyday life must be recognized to truly begin the journey of reconciliation, but it begins with upholding the fundamental principles of the Peace and Friendship treaties.

Click here for a bio of Brady Paul 

Recording via YouTube coming soon!

A Park in the City: Debating the Public Gardens

Wednesday, January 18, 2023, 7:00 pm (Atlantic), Halifax Central Library (Lindsay Children’s Room) and online via Zoom 


Peter L. Twohig: Saint Mary’s University 

Abstract: Based on his recently published illustrated history, this lecture will offer an overview of the history of the Public Gardens, from its origins in the 1830s to the present. The Public Gardens is one of the finest examples of a Victorian garden in North America but despite its timeless qualities, there have been many debates about its design, how it is used, and the neighbourhoods that surround it. This lecture will pay particular attention to these debates. 

Click here for a bio of Peter L. Twohig

Recording via YouTube coming soon!

“The Students are getting very restless”: Student Power at the Provincial Normal School, 1869 – 1879

Wednesday, December 14, 2022, 7:00 pm (Atlantic), Halifax Central Library (Lindsay Children’s Room) and via Zoom. 

John Grant: Professor (retired), St. Francis Xavier University

Abstract: In 1869, Alexander Forrester, the founding principal of the Provincial Normal School, Truro, NS, died in office. The provincial government replaced him with a colleague who had taught at the school since 1855. Within two months, however, he was removed from office and another was appointed. In 1879, two professors at the school were replaced. In both cases it was student voice and student action that precipitated change. This paper examines the two cases and considers the interwoven roles of politics in the confederation era and the politics of education and religion in the satisfaction of student demands.

Click here for a bio of John Grant

Recording via YouTube coming soon!

Early White Audience Reactions to Blackface Performances on Halifax stages (1830s-1860s)

Wednesday, November 16, 2022, 7:00 pm (Atlantic), Halifax Central Library (BMO Room) and via Zoom

Nicole Neatby: Professor, History Department, Saint Mary’s University

Abstract: Reviews in Halifax  newspapers  reveal that blackface performances  provoked mixed reactions between the late 1830s when they first appeared and the 1860s. While these shows were clearly popular from the outset among many Haligonians, those who published reviews were highly critical in the early decades.  However, it didn’t take long for reviewers’ assessments to evolve.  By the 1860s, the derision had subsided and  blackface shows gained favour as a form of  acceptable mainstream entertainment. This lecture will explore the reasons behind this shift and to what extent these reactions can offer some insights into  white Haligonians’ attitudes towards race and class.

Click here for a bio of Nicole Neatby

Maligomish: Roman Catholicism and the Persistence of Mi’kmaw Culture

Wednesday, October 19, 2022, 7:00 pm (Atlantic), Halifax Central Library (Lindsay Children’s Room) and via Zoom   

Colin Osmond, Post-doctoral Fellow, Mount Saint Vincent University

Abstract: Every year on July 26th, Mi’kmaq travel to Maligomish to attend Saint Anne’s Day – a Roman Catholic tradition honouring the Mi’kmaq’s patron saint. But the Mission is much more than a Catholic Holy day. For centuries, Mi’kmaq have gathered at Maligomish for a series of important political meetings and cultural events. The continuity of Mi’kmaq traditions highlights Mi’kmaw agency and cultural persistence – despite enormous colonial pressure to ‘assimilate’ in the 19th and 20th Centuries.

Click here for a bio of Colin Osmond

Activating the Archive: Margaret Perry’s Nova Scotia Promotional Films (1945-1969)

Wednesday, September 21, 2022, 7:00 pm (Atlantic), Halifax Central Library (Lindsay Children’s Room, 2nd floor) and via Zoom  

Phyllis R. Blakeley Memorial Lecture 

Jennifer VanderBurgh, Department of English Language and Literature, Saint Mary’s University

Abstract: This talk is part of a week of screenings, exhibitions, and special events to mark the new, digital release of over 50 films made between 1945-1969 by Nova Scotia government filmmaker, Margaret Perry. These promotional films are complex artefacts that articulate and reflect understandings of government policies, cultural discourses, as well as Perry’s own perspectives and artistic voice. Jennifer VanderBurgh has been working to activate this collection housed at Nova Scotia Archives. Her research reframes and animates these “government films” and encourages us to expand our understandings of their significance. This lecture will introduce the collection, the process of activating it, as well the discovery of new materials that bring more information to light about Perry’s artistic development and filmmaking practice. It will also consider some of the ethical complexities and considerations that are at stake in reviving this collection today.

Click here for a bio of Jennifer VanderBurgh

Not just Evangeline: A Look at Real Acadian Women

Wed., May 18, 2022, 7 pm (Atlantic), via Zoom

For Members, the AGM package will be available here

Susan Surette-Draper, Les Amis de Grand-Pré

Abstract: Some Acadian men’s names like Joseph Beausoleil, René LeBlanc and Pierre Melanson are familiar to many people but have you ever asked yourselves about the women in their lives? How did women’s support, determination and leadership help to build and preserve Acadian identity? A few rare comments can
be found in history books but the information is sparse and scattered. Join Susan for her look at Acadian society from a female lens.

Click here for a bio of Susan Surette-Draper