'It hurts me that it's going to be dismantled': Group calls for permanent space to honour N.B.'s black history
SAINT JOHN -- Ralph Thomas of the New Brunswick Black History Society is leading what could be described as a crash course in New Brunswick black history.
"Oh my word, there's a lot of history to be told and shown," says Thomas.
On Monday, volunteers gathered to train for a temporary black history month exhibit.
"We're actually looking forward to receiving a lot of people to create a lot of awareness on the history of the black culture here in New Brunswick," says University of New Brunswick student, Julius Inikori.
The roots of black history run deep in New Brunswick. However, the province doesn't have a dedicated museum or exhibit space to showcase that history, despite the fact Nova Scotia has three spaces, including the Africville Museum, the Black Cultural Centre and Museum, and the Black Loyalist Heritage Centre.
The lack of a place to celebrate black history now has the group of activists calling for the creation of a space to preserve and honour an integral part of the region's heritage.
"That's why the society got started – to dig up all the history in the province, bring it here and bring it to a centre," says Thomas.
Thomas says the history society wants to see dedicated spaces in Fredericton and Saint John.
"We would love to see an organization here with a heritage room," says Thomas. "Because this is where some of the refugees landed; this is certainly where the black loyalists landed."
Meanwhile, those involved with the temporary exhibit would like to see it live on past Black History Month.
"It hurts me that it's going to be dismantled after February 28," says Inikori. "We need to have [it] when the tourist ships arrive; they need to be able to have a dedicated heritage building where they can see and experience those things."
Meanwhile, the site will remain intact until the end of February.