Researchers at UNB find unique way to honour New Brunswickers during Black History Month
HALIFAX -- The University of New Brunswick has come up with a special way to honour notable New Brunswickers during Black History Month - a time when the many achievements and contributions of Black Canadians is celebrated.
Researchers at UNB's Memorial Hall Arts Centre created 28 banners featuring past and present faces in New Brunswick's Black community. The banners will hang in downtown Fredericton.
"We thought it would be nice to put them in a public area, especially with COVID-19, people aren't in the galleries right now," said Marie Maltais, UNB Arts Centre Director. "People can't come to see these things, so we thought we'd bring it to people, and so, even driving today, it was beautiful to see them on Westmorland Street."
Maltais says she isn't the only one enjoying the new collection to downtown Fredericton.
"Some people have been moved to tears by seeing them because they're relatives," said Maltais. "Some people already know them, like Willie O'Ree, or Measha Brueggergosman, who is very famous in Canada and around the world. So, I think it's reflecting back to us something we may not have known about these other people."
The banners highlight an array of prominent figures, including hockey players and pioneers of their time.
Mary Louise McCarthy-Brandt is one of the faces you will see on the banners. The recent PhD graduate, who has worked hard to preserve the past, says she was honoured to be included in the collection.
"The history of Black New Brunswickers has been hidden," said McCarthy-Brandt. "It has been erased and this is one step into kind of broadening our history,and exposing and telling those precious stories."
McCarthy-Brandt says she hopes the banners will encourage others to learn and share the history of Black New Brunswickers all year round.
"These flags should keep on going. Maybe duplicates can be made in Saint John, in Moncton, in Bathurst, Miramichi," said McCarthy-Brandt. "These stories are all of our stories, specifically, they're highlighting Black New Brunswickers and their achievements."
Maltais hopes,in the future, more names and banners can be added to their collection that continues to grow in popularity.