Message From The Honourable Dr. Mayanne Francis

This is a particularly poignant time in our history – as a province and as a nation. The Black Lives Matter movement is supported by people of all races, more so than ever before. The murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, among others, by police officers, have sparked global reaction and are tragedies that have affected me deeply.

Here in Nova Scotia, we are not immune to systemic discrimination and racism. We have seen African Nova Scotians and people of colour treated differently and disrespectfully. But as a woman of faith, I continue to pray for justice and civility.

I grew up in Whitney Pier in Sydney, Cape Breton, which was a multicultural and inclusive community. Families regardless of their culture, religion or colour looked out for one another. Growing up in this environment clearly had a positive impact on me and many others.

I have publicly shared my personal experience of racism and discrimination through my memoir and the barriers I had to overcome to be successful. I wrote my story as a vehicle of hope. I also want people to look inward at themselves and honestly reflect on the issue of systemic discrimination and racism, because all of us have a role to play to contribute to a fair, peaceful, inclusive and loving society.

The Center of Excellence spoke to me through its mission – the commitment to educate and the development of leaders who will enrich the future of our society.

Through educational courses, cultural understanding, discussion groups on topics like health, food security, entrepreneurship, the Center for Excellence will pave the way for a more equitable and just future for not only the people of Digby and Nova Scotia, but also for Canada.

When I was Lieutenant Governor, I visited Digby and saw firsthand this beautiful part of the province. Like many other places it has had its challenges with racism.

Digby residents have worked hard to make it a community for everyone. Through the lens of history, we can see there is no better place for the Center of Excellence, a place that demonstrates the desire for positive change, inclusion and equality.

I invite you to join me in donating financially or otherwise in the establishment of the Center of Excellence. By bringing this positive change to our province we will
demonstrate our support for inclusivity and diversity not only for today but also for future generations.

“The time is always right to do the right thing.” Martin Luther King

Thank you,
The Honourable Dr. Mayann Francis, ONS

Message from the President

Kerry Johnson, President, JACBA

My family’s involvement in the community and with the Acaciaville Conway Betterment Association (ACBA) has been longstanding. While all of the original members of the board have since passed away – my father, Hubert Johnson, was the last to pass on.

Following my retirement from the Canadian Forces and returning to the area, I always had an interest in re-establishing the ACBA. In 2011, the ACBA reorganized and elected Mrs. Imogene Barton as President. We piloted Community Reunions and Remembrance Day Brunches with a focus on acquiring a Community Center in the Black community of Digby. We then included the name “Jordantown” to the organization and known thereafter as the Jordantown Acaciaville Conway Betterment Association (JACBA).

Since being elected the President of JACBA in 2012, we conducted a survey in the Community to get input on priorities and initiatives. As a result of that input, we created a Senior’s Group, a remembrance in recognition of the members who served in the military, past and present. Perhaps the clearest direction we received was that the vast majority of those who responded identified a new community center as the most important priority.

In 2013 JACBA was asked by the Digby Education Committee (DEC) to take a lead role in acquiring a Community Center. I couldn’t think of a better way of honoring the Community’s input and continuing the legacy of those founding board members than to have a gathering place for the Community.

The Center of Excellence will help our community prosper, as a well-deserved victory after years of resilience from African Nova Scotian and Black students who have been subjected to racism and racialized discrimination since the mid 1950s. Each square foot in this building will represent another step forward in racial equality.

Although the Center came to fruition because we were segregated, we now have ahead of us a symbol of respect, diversity and inclusion for the Digby County area.

We invite you to join us and invest in a Center deeply rooted in education that will support the health, wellness, and employment opportunities for those in our very own community.

Kerry Johnson
President, JACBA