African Heritage Month 2020 (February) in Nova Scotia is being recognized and celebrated with the theme ‘Ties that Bind: family, faith and community.’ On February 4, the IWK held a kick-off event to explore that theme and for the first time, raise the Pan-African Flag on our grounds in the Newman Gardens.
Dr. Krista Jangaard, IWK president & CEO, opened the event and welcomed honoured guests to the IWK.
“To better serve and provide quality care that is responsive to the needs of communities we serve, it is important that we continue expanding our knowledge,” said Jangaard. “We need to keep learning so that collectively, we can ensure a shared partnership in providing the best care for women, children, youth and families.”
The keynote speaker was Reverend Dr. Rhonda Britton. Britton is from Jacksonville, Florida and now lives in Halifax, serving as the senior pastor of New Horizons Baptist Church in Halifax.
In her address, Britton broke down the ‘ties that bind theme’ and defined family, faith and community through stories, experiences, lessons and passion.
“We continue to hold on to the hope of a world that accepts, celebrates and appreciates us in all our diversity. We’ve seen glimpses of that come and go, but we continue to believe that there will come a day when our value becomes a natural part, a sustained, a permanent part, of the societal landscape throughout the diaspora in the world,” Britton said.
Britton connected her address to the IWK and the role we play as a maternity hospital in people’s lives.
“African Heritage Month is not just for people of African descent. It is for all of us. Our children deserve the very best in education, in health, in recreation, in every aspect of their lives. When those lives start new, in this place that has welcomed so many new human beings into the world, we cannot consider only what is good for them when they are born or even when their mothers are carrying them but what will they experience when they grow and live in this world?”
To thank Britton for her time, Dr. Andrew Lynk, chief of pediatrics, with Lisa Bland, clinical leader development, Adult Surgery & Women’s Ambulatory Clinics, presented a gift and said a few words.
“When I first came here about three years ago I said I hope one day, whoever sits here and gives these types of talks, will be someone from our African-Nova Scotian or First-Nations communities and they’ll be head of pediatrics here,” said Lynk. “And that child is somewhere in school, or university, waiting to come and we have to make sure that they have that opportunity to serve here too.”
To conclude the event, all guests were invited outside to watch the Pan-African flag being raised by Theresa Johnson, professional practice leader social work.
“I’m honoured to be invited to raise the pan-African flag for the very first time here at the IWK,” said Johnson. “A flag tells a story. So for me, this flag tells a story of faith, family and community. It’s a story of connection – connection of our African, Black and Caribbean communities in Nova Scotia and across the world.”