A Nova Scotia school board is defending the removal of a student-made poster showing a black man in chains, saying it’s important to distinguish between history and heritage.

The poster, made by student Hannah Cameron, then 14, hung in the halls of Shelburne Regional High School for two years, after it won a contest launched by the Black Loyalist Society.

But it was recently removed after a community member complained that it depicted a man in chains.

Lisa Doucet, superintendent of the Tri-County Regional School Board, defended the administration’s move in a statement.

“African people having been enslaved is a part of the history but does not speak to culture they had before enslavement or the culture that African Nova Scotians have been building,” it read.

The artist, now 17, was inspired by a field trip to Birchtown, a nearby Black Loyalist community.

She declined to comment, but her mother said the family accepts the school board’s decision.

But some students say the decision caught them off-guard, especially since another image showing enchained slaves in Sierra Leone remains on display in the school.

“It really surprised me, considering our school is really big into the Black History education,” said Grade 11 student Oshia MacKay.

The move has made MacKay concerned her education is being censored.

“It can’t all be happy. It has to have that part of history,” she said.

“There was sadness and we can’t just pretend it didn’t happen.”

Though the Black Loyalist Society, which hosted the poster competition, declined to comment, the executive director of the Black Cultural Centre of Nova Scotia offered a view.

“In my opinion the poster is tasteful and depicts important aspects of history, and as an African Nova Scotian, I don’t find it offensive,” said Russell Grosse in a statement.

“The image of Martin Luther King followed by hands indicating unity and a person illustrated with shackles and chains is very powerful,” he wrote.

Students and many others in the community say they’re not happy with how the whole situation has been handled.

“I don’t think it was right that they just took someone’s information who was outside the school,” said Grade 10 student Andrew Davis.

“Instead they could have come and done a survey in the school and seen what the students had to say about it,” he said.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Kayla Hounsell