Jamaica's 62 Independence & Emancipation Celebration

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Halifax Natal Day Parade - August 2023
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JCANS July 30 2023 Poster



The Government of Canada recognizes the national historic significance of the Jamaican Maroons in Nova Scotia

Source: Parks Canada, 24 February 2023

National historic designations encourage us to acknowledge both the triumphs and the struggles that have led us to the Canada of today, and help us reflect on how to build a more inclusive society for today and future generations.

Today, the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, announced the designation of the Jamaican Maroons in Nova Scotia as an event of national historic significance under Parks Canada’s National Program of Historical Commemoration.

The experiences of the more than 500 Jamaican Maroons forcibly transported to Nova Scotia in 1796 exemplified the insecure rights and freedoms of African-descended British subjects in the late 18th century. Formerly enslaved peoples of African ancestry and their descendants, the Maroons had lived in relative independence and isolation in Trelawny Town, Jamaica. In 1796, almost everyone from the town – approximately 150 families or more than 500 adults and children – were forcibly transported to the British colony of Nova Scotia.

In spite of an inhospitable reception in Nova Scotia, the Maroons maintained a strong sense of community through adaptation, accommodation, and resistance. They reaffirmed their allegiance to the British monarch and acceded in some cases to local demands for their labour and their attendance at Christian churches and schools, while strongly opposing pressures to abandon traditional Akan spiritual and cultural practices. For years, the Maroons tirelessly petitioned for the freedom to leave Nova Scotia. In the end, the British arranged for their migration to Sierra Leone in 1800.

While most of the Maroons left for Sierra Leone, some individuals are believed to have remained in Nova Scotia. Their strong sense of identity, resiliency, and resistance to oppression remain a source of pride for African Nova Scotians.

The Government of Canada, through the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, recognizes significant persons, places, and events that have shaped our country as one way of helping Canadians connect with their past. By sharing these stories with Canadians, we hope to foster understanding and reflection on the diverse histories, cultures, legacies, and realities of Canada’s past and present.

The designation process under Parks Canada’s National Program of Historical Commemoration is largely driven by public nominations. To date, more than 2,200 designations have been made nationwide. To nominate a person, place or historic event in your community, please visit the Parks Canada website for more information: https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/culture/clmhc-hsmbc/ncp-pcn/application.



“The Jamaican Maroons left a lasting legacy with their dignity, strength, resiliency, and resistance to oppression and still hold a prominent place within the collective memory of African Nova Scotians. Recognizing the national historic significance of the Jamaican Maroons in Nova Scotia helps to memorialize their unique history and contributes to the greater story of Canada.”

The Honourable Steven Guilbeault
Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada

“The Trelawny Maroons of Jamaica, demonstrated sheer will and determination through adversity to make significant contributions to Nova Scotia. Today, their resilient legacy lives on in the African Nova Scotian Community and through the remarkable stone work that is a part of the heritage of Citadel Hill and Government House in this province.”

Russell Grosse
Executive Director, Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia

"The unique experience of this incredibly defiant community of African Jamaicans in being forcibly sent to Nova Scotia reflects another way that Black people in Canada are resistant, are communal (family oriented) and are diverse. The impact of the Maroons lies in their construction of The Citadel, the creation of communities and in the choice, by many, to leave for Sierra Leone after 4 years in Nova Scotia and speaks to the nature of an intangible freedom."

Rosemary Sadlier
Author, Speaker, Historian, Consultant, and Champion of February as Black History Month & August 1st as Emancipation Day

“It is fitting that the Federal Government is commemorating the Trelawny Maroons in Nova Scotia as an event of National Historic Significance. The Maroon exemplifies Black resistance to slavery and colonialism, and a commitment to racial and social justice. As one with roots in the Trelawny Maroon community, I am thrilled at this designation.”

Afua Cooper
Killam Research Chair, Dalhousie University

“As we reflect on the designation of the Jamaican Maroons as an event of national historic significance, we can better appreciate the challenges faced by Black people, but also recognize their unwavering strength and endurance. All Canadians should take time to learn more about the designations that highlight the important contributions of Black Canadians to Canada’s growth and heritage.”

Arielle Kayabaga
Member of Parliament for London West and Chair of the Black Caucus

Quick facts

  • Jamaican Maroons contributed to the building of roads, highways, canals, bridges, buildings, and fortifications in Nova Scotia, including Government House (a national historic site, designated in 1982) and the third fortification on Citadel Hill in Halifax, which was later replaced by the fourth and final Halifax Citadel (a national historic site, designated in 1935).

  • While most of the Jamaican Maroons left Nova Scotia for Sierra Leone in 1800, it is widely believed that some individuals stayed behind. Their continued presence is suggested by the surnames, accents, idioms, customs, oral histories, and traditions of African Nova Scotians. 

  • Canada officially recognizes the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent, which began in 2015 and will be observed until 2024. The International Decade promotes greater global recognition of and respect for the cultures, history and heritage of people of African descent.

  • Created in 1919, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada advises the Minister of Environment and Climate Change regarding the national significance of persons, places, and events that have marked Canada’s history. Together with Parks Canada, the Board ensures that subjects of national historic significance are recognized under Parks Canada’s National Program of Historical Commemoration and these important stories are shared with Canadians.

  • Parks Canada is committed to working with Canadians in our efforts to tell broader, more inclusive stories in the places that it manages. In support of this goal, the Framework for History and Commemoration outlines a comprehensive, and engaging approach to sharing Canada’s history through diverse perspectives, including shedding light on tragic and difficult periods of Canada’s past.

Honouring Dr Rudolph Ffrench

The Board of the Jamaican Cultural Association members were delighted to be at an event at Acadia University in September 2022, participating in the posthumous honour of Dr Rudy Ffrench. Dr Ffrench was the first person of African descent to be appointed as a faculty member at that university, eventually rising to the rank of full Professor and eventually Head of the Department of Economics. He was the first Black Head Coach of the Atlantic University Athletic Association, and a founding member of Black Business Initiative (BBI). His Economic insights were valued and sought after at local and federal levels as well as in the Caribbean.  

The plaques were presented not only as an honour to the Ffrench family, but also as an inspiration to the young people, particularly, young people of colour as they walk the halls of Acadia.



IMG 20220720 WA0016   JCANS Poster August 7 2022


Message to JCANS Members and friends (June 6, 2022)

We are pleased to update you on JCANS upcoming events, and we invite you to participate and experience the joy of celebration once more after the long isolation caused by the Pandemic. These events are:

1. Halifax Dartmouth Pepsi Float Parade to take place on August 1st, 2022

The Halifax Regional Municipality and Senior Events Coordinator Andrew Cox has announced the return of the Parade.

JCANS has been invited to present its own unique float in the Parade. We will also celebrate the Diamond Jubilee - Jamaica’s 6O years of INDEPENDENCE. We invite your participation with costumes and music, and rejoicing. Come join in the celebration of your culture. Please contact us at 902-477-8478 for further information to connect with the organizers.

2. JCANS 9th Caribbean Diaspora Multicultural Celebration will take place at the Alderney Landing Ferry Terminal Park and Boardwalk on August 7, 2022, 1:00-9:00 p.m. We are hoping that it will exceed all the excitement of past events on the Halifax Commons, there will be bands performing Caribbean Music, reggae, soca, calypso, DJ Music, performers, singers, dancers, competitions, drummers, inter-generational games, spicy foods and much more!

Send us your suggestions! we invite you to help us plan and produce a fantastic show in August. Above all! bring your families and friends to join the fun and excitement.

3. SAVE THE DATE:  JCANS ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING on ZOOM to take place on Monday, July 4, 2022, at 7. 00 pm. It will be a wonderful opportunity for sharing your ideas about how JCANS can best serve your needs in the future. Come and let us get to know you better, lets us work together for the common good. Register to become a member, we will embrace your ideas. We will send the ZOOM details closer to the date. Please reply to this letter:-  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Olive Phillips - JCANS President  

Eartha Monard - Vice President





Click to watch the 8th Caribbean Diaspora Multicultural Virtual Celebration

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Click to watch the 2021 JCANS Virtual Celebration


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Click to view a message from Mayor Mike Savage:



The Halifax Black Film Festival (HBFF) celebrates African Heritage Month with a film selection line-up from February 23 to 28, 2021! For more information and tickets, go to https://halifaxblackfilm.com/2021-films/

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City Crest Needlepoint by Jamaican Nova Scotian Artist

Mabel Elizabeth JohnsonEMariMercesMrs. Johnson dedicated nine months of six-hour days to create this large tapestry with incredibly detailed needle-work. The City's motto, E Mari Merces (Wealth from the Sea) was adopted on the new Halifax Regional Municipality crest, along with elements from the other amalgamated municipalities' heraldry. The Municipal Archives has many files and images about the previous municipal coats of arms and flags.

 Mrs. Johnson was born in Jamaica in 1885 and came to Halifax in 1929 with her British husband Ernest Johnson after working throughout the Americas as a telegrapher. Together they taught telegraphy in a wireless school in Halifax, until Ernest's death in 1959. During WWII, Mabel cared for returned wounded soldiers and then continued as a volunteer and instructor with the St. John Ambulance Brigade.

She was a talented artist and taught needlepoint in the adult education system and in long-term care homes. She was an active member of the Caribbean Association of Nova Scotia (CARANS), 1970-1990. In 1982, "Johnnie", as she was known by her friends, was awarded a Certificate for Outstanding Community Service by the City. Despite being faced with racism in Halifax, Johnson remained active and independent throughout her life. She took swimming lessons in her nineties and visited Jamaica in the years before her death in 1992 at the age of 106. See newsclippings, and personal recollections about Mrs. Johnson, provided by the Jamaican Cultural Association of Nova Scotia.

For more information, visit City Crest Needlepoint by Jamaican Nova Scotian Artist | Halifax




The Jamaican Cultural Association of Nova Scotia (JCANS) will honour Jamaica’s 58th year of Independence by raising the National Flag of Jamaica at Halifax Parade square with the blessing of Mayor Mike Savage and the City Council on August 4th, 2020 at 10:00 AM. Please come out pay tribute to the land that nurtured and inspired you, strong and free.

On August 6 - 8, 2020, Jamaican organizations across Canada will come together to celebrate Jamaica's 58th year of Independence.

This year, due to the ongoing pandemic, celebrations could not be held in person as was customary. The planning team came together to make sure Jamaicans would still have the opportunity to participate in the annual tradition of marking the anniversary of their home nation’s independence. 

This is the second time we have come together as Jamaican Associations. This past June, we hosted a seven hours telethon to raise funds for stranded Jamaican visitors in Canada, International Students, and other vulnerable Jamaicans.  The event website received almost 1000 unique hits and more than 2000 views on the Charles Matthews Jr. Show and social media pages.

The Independence event will again be hosted live on the Charles Matthews Jr. Show as well as Jamaica Canadian Associations social media platforms across the participating cities. With broader promotion using our media partners, we anticipate more than 5000 individuals will tune in over the three days.

The three days of online events dubbed Jamaican Canadians Coast to Coast has major sponsors: Knutsford Express, Montego Bay Jamaica; Grace Kennedy, Toronto Ontario; World Financial Group Insurance Agency Daniel O’Donnell, Ottawa Ontario; Caribbean Choice Foods, Calgary Alberta and CMJ Entertainment - Charles Matthews, Brampton Ontario. It will feature performances from across Canada and showcase the activities in the various cities across the country.

The organizations involved in this event are:

  • Jamaican Cultural Association of Nova Scotia (JCANS)
  • Jamaica Association of Montreal Foundation
  • Jamaica Association of Montreal Inc.
  • Jamaican (Ottawa) Community Association Inc. (JOCA)
  • Jamaican Canadian Association (JCA)
  • Windsor West Indian Association (Caribbean Centre)
  • Jamaican Association of Manitoba
  • The Jamaican Canadian Cultural Association of British Columbia (JCCABC)
  • Jamaican Canadian Association Alberta (Calgary)

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On August 6th, Independence Day
, there will be an opening ceremony starting at 4:00 PM followed by entertainment including Jamaican Festival Songs.

On August 7th, day two will focus on culture and will highlight Jamaican Cinema and Music with a tribute to iconic Jamaican performer Jimmy Cliff, comedic performances, and some history. There will also information sessions with panelist from Jamaica Consulate Office Toronto; Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB|); Jamaica National Bank (JN); Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO); Pan-African Credit Union (PACU) and Jamaica Diaspora Groups.

On August 8th, the event’s last day, the focus is on youth and boasts a children’s corner and a plethora of youth talent on display. There will be a virtual tour of the exhibit Jamaican-Nova Scotian Connections from the Maroons to the Present Day at The Canadian Museum of Immigration - Pier 21. The evening will end with a segment called Big People Time featuring some of the best Jamaican Canadian talents and live DJs taking viewers through the decades from Ska to modern Dancehall.

Michelle McKenzie-Dolly, Chair of the committee had this to say "Jamaicans everywhere take the time to celebrate this day every year. The ongoing pandemic made it harder, but we just could not let the day pass without recognizing our 58th year as an independent country. The various organizations that have come together to make this event happen are phenomenal and we are in for a treat!"

The events will run online at Jamaican Canadians Coast to Coast web-site jcccgroup.ca. Information requests can be directed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

T. Olive Phillips, JCANS President

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We invite everyone to tune in each day (August 6, 7 & 8) by clicking on the daily poster to join the live streaming celebration, enjoy the wide variety of activities and celebrate with friends and family.  
Of note, the Jamaican Cultural Association of Nova Scotia (JCANS) will honour Jamaica’s 58th year of Independence by raising the National Flag of Jamaica in person at Halifax Parade square with the blessing of Mayor Mike Savage and the City Council on August 4, 2020 at 10:00 AM. We invite everyone to come out to pay tribute and to celebrate with us. Please remember to mask up for this in-person event!  We appreciate your support and look forward to seeing you!
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The Jamaican Cultural Association of Nova Scotia (JCANS) wishes to express our deepest sympathy to the families who lost loved ones in the recent tragedy in our province as well as to the families of the members of the Canadian Navy in the recent helicopter crash in the Mediterranean.

We also remember the families of those who have been and continue to be casualties of COVID-19.

Please know that our thoughts and prayers are with you at this very difficult time.

We also wish to express gratitude to the first responders and front- line workers who risk their lives and safety everyday to protect our fellow Nova Scotians.

Isaiah 40:31 reminds us: “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles.”

 T. Olive Phillips, JCANS President



The Jamaican Cultural Association of Nova Scotia: contribution to the cultural landscape. Joshua Paris in conversation with Olive Phillips.

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The Jamaican Cultural Association of Nova Scotia (JCANS) hereby announces the cancellation of its 7th CARIBBEAN DIASPORA MULTICULTURAL CELEBRATION originally scheduled to take place on August 3, 2020 on the Halifax South Commons.

In the light of the ongoing public health concerns due to COVID 19 and Provincial restrictions on ‘PUBLIC MASS GATHERINGS’, it is important that we make this decision now.

We regret having to cancel this event that so many Nova Scotians enjoy each year. Our paramount concerns have been to slow the spread of this dangerous virus and the preservation of valuable lives in our community.



SPRINTER to open 4th Edition Halifax Black Film Festival

The 4th annual Halifax Black Film Festival (#HBFF20) announces the official program and event lineup running February 28 – March 1, 2020, as part of TD’s 2020 Black History Month Series. #HBFF20 will kick off with Storm Saulter’s Sprinter at Park Lane Cineplex and will close with Bernard Atta’s Restless – both films as Atlantic Canadian premieres. With its specifically Jamaican story and universal themes that target a global audience, Saulter believes the success of Sprinter points to an industry on the cusp of a breakout. “It’s a sports drama so it might feel familiar, but it’s also a film where you discover an entire country and culture through eyes that are way more nuanced and complex than what you’re used to seeing or thinking about Jamaica,” he said. “And I really hope that we get a lot of eyes on this film so that we can then prove the market for Caribbean cinema exists.”



Jamaican Nova Scotian Connections Exhibit: FROM THE MAROONS TO THE PRESENT DAY

February 5 – April 5, 2020, at Pier 21 Mirella and Lino Saputo Hall

A Community Presents Exhibit by the Jamaican Cultural Association of Nova Scotia explores the growth and contributions of the oldest Jamaican community in Canada, from the migration of the Maroons in the 18th century until the present day.


The Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 will be hosting classical pianist (and son of Jamaican immigrants) Rashaan Rori Allwood and soprano Nadine Anyan on Tuesday, March 3rd at 10:30 am and 7:00 pm.

This extraordinary concert, featuring the works of Black composers, including works in French and German by Rashaan Allwood himself, has already astounded audiences at the Vancouver Public Library in Vancouver, BC, and at Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto, ON. We are very proud to be holding this wonderful event at the Museum.

Registration is recommended for both concerts:

- 10:30 am concert –  click to register

- 7:00 pm concert - click to register



JCANS meeting will take place Sunday, March 8th, 2020 at the Dartmouth High School (95 Victoria Road, Dartmouth) near the bus terminal at the Mac Donald bridge, from 3:00 - 5:00 PM. Please bring your fresh ideas and lets keep the energy going.




This International Women’s Day, March 8th from 6:00 to 8:00 PM, meet mothers and daughters from our Oral History collection at Pier 21, Andrea & Charles Bronfman Theatre (presentd in English). The event is free but registration is required. Please click here to register...

Web calendar: https://pier21.ca/events

Facebook event: https://facebook.com/events/488179868801377/


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