“Remember the Ant”: Town Hall Meeting Makes History
In recognition of the United Nations declaring 2011, the “International Year for People of African Descent”, on August 22, 2011 at the North Preston Recreation and Community Centre, the African Nova Scotian Community made history by being the first in Canada to elect a council of Elders and unanimously voted to form a Nova Scotia Chapter of the Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus (SRDC). “By being the first to form a Chapter of the SRDC in Canada and by extension, our province is the sole representative voice thus far to accept the African Union’s invitation to participate.” Remarks Allen, the Nova Scotia SRDC Facilitator. This particular town hall is the result of a series of “Remember the Ant” Town Halls that took place earlier. The first was held in Africville, during the annual Africville Reunion and festival, which each year honours the historic Black Community that was destroyed and displaced the residents through so-called “urban renewal” in the 1960’s.
The second Town Hall: “Remember the Ant” , was held during the annual Sydney Days of Action, Wednesday, August 3rd, at the Menelik Hall. SRDC is a direct response to the African Union (AU) invitation to partipate collectively in the affairs of the AU. The AU is an organization that links together 55 of 56 countries on the African continent and is intended to create a common voice for African people in international affairs. Until recently, representation in the African Union was limited to African people living on the continent. The estimated 350 million Africa-descended people living in the worldwide Diaspora were excluded. But the African Union now wants to reach further. In addition to the five regions of the continent, the Union aims to create a “sixth region”: the worldwide Diaspora.
For Horne (the International Facilitator for SRDC) the creation of the sixth region is an acknowledgement of the affinities and commonalities that have endured among African people, wherever they happen to live in the present. “You aren’t an African because you were born in Africa,” he tells the town hall audience. “You’re African because Africa was born in you.” The sixth region initiative, is offering the Diaspora an official role in the African Union and promises to create a venue large and inclusive enough for African people to come together and plot a better, collective future. At this point, the sixth region is only an invitation. It remains to be accepted, Horne explains, “And that means, organizing ourselves to present ourselves and represent ourselves.” Canada is one of many countries with a significant African Diaspora, and the sixth region initiative calls for African Canadians to decide if they want to be included.
Allen hopes that the African Nova Scotian community will play a leading role amid the Canadian-based Diaspora. Recognizing Nova Scotia as the one of the first homes of African People in the country now called Canada, and the African residents of the province as the “elders” of the overall African Canadian population.