N.B. Black History Society opens new heritage centre in Saint John
SAINT JOHN, N.B. -- The presentation and collection of Black history in New Brunswick has a new home.
A grand opening for the New Brunswick Black History Society’s new Black History Heritage Centre will happen in a few weeks, however the location in Brunswick Square is now open to the public for a ‘soft launch.’
Ralph Thomas of the New Brunswick Black History Society says it’s the first time so much of the province’s shared Black history has been displayed together in one space.
“Some folks set out 40 years ago, 50 years ago to tell the history,” says Thomas. “Some folks have some of that history already collected. But let’s get it out, let’s put it up so the rest of the province can see it.
“And let the Black community understand that we were a part of the building New Brunswick and we were a part of building Canada.”
Much of the Society’s work in Black history preservation is part of an online database.
“It’s a repository of Black New Brunswick stories and Black New Brunswick information, it covers Black loyalists and Black refugees,” says Damon Levine, the program developer at PRUDE.
Levine says the website will continue to be key in the collection of more artifacts and information.
The new centre includes a variety of displays ranging from information about Black loyalist settlements in New Brunswick to biographies of prominent community members. More displays will be added before the centre’s grand opening in mid-June.
Omar Morad, a youth program officer with PRUDE, has been part of the heritage centre’s creation.
“As a newcomer, I’m just encouraging youth to come here and see the place and know more about Black history,” says Morad. “I’m also encouraging (newcomers) because that’s good information to know about your new country.”
Thomas says a goal is for the centre’s collection to become part of an expanded New Brunswick Museum, which has been long debated.
“We want to be here for a couple years,” says Thomas. “That gives us a chance to collect all the history that we need.”
“And it will keep going if it’s in a museum, if it’s in a museum that represents the whole province.”