Including inclusion

Including inclusion

< Back to Articles | Topics: From the President | Contributors: Patrick Sullivan, President and CEO, Halifax Chamber of Commerce | Published: February 4, 2020

February is such an important month for Nova Scotians, Canadians and the global population. This month, in Nova Scotia, we celebrate African Heritage Month (AHM)!

Our African Nova Scotian population makes up only about five per cent of the total population, but contributes
in much higher numbers to the economic, social and cultural impact of this province. From the historic settlements throughout Nova Scotia, to the north end of Halifax, to the ever-growing number of businesses assisted by the Black Business Initiative, we are incredibly proud to boast of our African Nova Scotian communities throughout the province.

I was lucky enough to see the progress during construction of the Black Loyalist Centre in Birchtown,
N.S. and to see the wonderful facility it is after it was completed with my entire board of directors. I would encourage every Nova Scotian to visit this great facility to better understand the African Nova Scotian story.

Do yourself a favour this month — and year-round — and learn about black history in Nova Scotia. Check out the Africville Museum, a beautiful piece of history that captures the heart and soul of Africville that lives on today. You can learn more about African Nova Scotian locations and history check out the African Nova Scotian Tourism Guide available on the provincial website.

Attend one of the many African Heritage Month events taking place, including a conversation with a rocket scientist, exploring reparations and historic tales of the black loyalists.

As Halifax celebrates this month, we are thrilled to present this issue of Business Voice, focused entirely on diversity in our city.

I’m proud to be part of an organization that makes a concerted effort to be inclusive.

I’ll be the first to say we still have a long way to go, but as the voice of business for 1,700 members in Halifax, we should lead by example.

We want to see every aspect of the business community represented on stage. We want to hear different perspectives from different walks of life.

We want diverse ideas and backgrounds at the table. We know having a room full of people with the same ideas and the same backgrounds creates an echo chamber.

That’s why Ann Divine, of Ashanti Leadership and our Chair of the Board, Margaret Chapman, have hosted roundtables with a diverse group of community representatives.

This group contributes to Halifax in a variety of ways. They run their own small businesses, they work in not-for-profits and they’re community leaders — and they deserve a platform.

We asked them what we can do to better demonstrate diversity and ensure women have a seat at the table and here’s what they said:

We need more communication with under-represented groups. The Department of Labour and Advanced Education offers great educational and career incentives, but if you’ve never heard of them, how can you take advantage?

We need to be more vocal about the lack of diversity still plaguing the business community. We need to think about accessibility. Did you know only 59 per cent of working-age adults with a disability in Canada are employed?

I know it can sound repetitive to hear diversity and inclusion, but we still have such a long way to go.

There are certainly more women and under-represented leaders in the business community now compared to 10, even five years ago. And that’s one big step forward.

But we need more African Nova Scotian women, more Indigenous women, more immigrant women, more people with disabilities and from under-represented groups front and centre. We need their perspectives and their ideas at the head of this conversation.

So, a call to action to our members — reach out to us! The Chamber is always looking for event speakers, for topics to discuss in our magazine and for issues to advocate to government.

We want to hear from you.

Check out for a full list of African Heritage Month events.

< Back to Articles | Topics: From the President

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