We are almost halfway through the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024), which focuses on three pillars: recognition, justice and development. On Sept. 18, the Nova Scotia government released Count Us In, its action plan for the rest of the decade.
This event went under-reported, as most media outlets were more invested in covering a political blackface scandal that day. The irony is not lost on us.
As the African Nova Scotian Decade for People of African Descent Coalition, we are pleased that Nova Scotia is one of the only jurisdictions to fully recognize and respond to the Decade. Yet we wish African Nova Scotian groups had been more involved in developing the action plan, and we want to see government held accountable for delivering on the plan in concrete ways that make a difference for African Nova Scotians.
As a Coalition, we see the following issues as especially critical:
- Establish an African Nova Scotian Justice Institute to comprehensively address inequities throughout the justice system.
- Act to collect and use health system data that establishes disaggregated, MSI data by race, ethnicity and language to drive informed, responsible, evidence-based decision-making for African Nova Scotians with respect to clinical health services, health service utilization, health research and health outcomes.
- Establish a legislative framework for recognizing African Nova Scotians as a unique people that results in an Act that establishes a new relationship between all People of African Ancestry and the Government of Nova Scotia.
The Coalition also sent a survey to all federal election candidates in Nova Scotia identifying issues of importance to African Nova Scotians and asking them to share their views on those issues. Unfortunately, only two candidates out of 70 responded. We thank candidates Darrell Samson and Larry Duschesne for their response to the survey.
As Canadians head to the polls on Monday, we encourage African Nova Scotians, and all Nova Scotians, to challenge all levels of government to respond to the Decade’s calls for action. We encourage media to read the full provincial action plan and, most importantly, engage with the African Nova Scotian Decade for People of African Descent Coalition for a deeper, respectful and meaningful response to issues that matter to African Nova Scotians.