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The Accomplishments

1993

  • Birchtown was the site of an archaeological dig, with archaeologist Laird Niven.

1994

  • Another archaeological dig, Dr. Stephen Davis, archaeologist with St. Mary’s University

1996

  • Birchtown designated as National Historic Site by National Historic Sites and Monuments Board on July 20, 1996.
  • Monument erected recognizing the arrival of the Black Loyalist in Nova Scotia in 1783 and the establishment of the oldest and largest freed Black settlement in Canada.
  • Acquisition of St. Paul’s Church as a Black Loyalist Heritage Property.

1997

  • Acquisition of Heritage School
  • Two Archaeological Digs at Birchtown: affirms historical site
  • Visibility through set-up of the office and office support in Shelburne.
  • Development of Proposal for funding “ To Develop a Plan To Establish Birchtown/Shelburne, Nova Scotia as The Canadian Flagship Black Loyalist Heritage Resource Centre and Tourism Site.
  • Employed two summer students as tour guides and interpreters
  • Acquired partnership with Dal Tech Faculty of Architecture for facility design, model and preliminary drawings

1998

  • Completion of Architectural schemata and model – designed by Filum architects.
  • Partnership with Nova Scotia Museum’s archaeological and genealogical project
  • Third archaeological dig resulting in 3000 artifacts
  • Ascending genealogical research
  • Start-up of Black Loyalist Registry: location and registration of descendantsofBlack Loyalists
  • Black Loyalist Heritage Society received award from the Province of Nova Scotia for volunteerism and multiculturalism.

1999

  • Successful coordination of academic research partners for Black Loyalist ‘Identity Politic’ research and Architectural and Agricultural research for site planning.
  • Acquisition of four properties which become the site for the Black Loyalist Heritage Resource Centre and Tourism Site.

2000

  • Opened the Black Loyalist Museum located in the Birchtown Old School House. It housed an exhibit from the Nova Scotia Museum titled “Remembering Black Loyalist Communities”
  • Constructed and opened the Black Loyalist Office located in Birchtown.

2001

  • Four students from the Black Community completed a genealogical record searcher course and three received certification from The Genealogical Institute of the Maritimes.
  • Four participants were hired through Digital Collections, Industry Canada to design and create a web site for the Black Loyalist Heritage Society which can be found on the web at www.blackloyalist.com
  • A Youth Initiative Project was established giving Black youth a chance to gain practical work skills through computer training and various workshops.
  • Black Loyalist Heritage Society was recognized as a Charity through the Income Tax Act and has established the Charitable Foundation which is responsible for fund-raising money for our long term goals of a Heritage Complex.
  • Archaeological digs at Birchtown are on going with archaeologist Laird Niven. He is also recording the Rock Walls and Mounds of Birchtown that were built by the original Black Loyalists.
  • Laird Niven and Heather MacLeod Leslie of In Situ – Cultural Heritage Research Group have been using technologies in Global Positioning System (GPS) and Geographic Information System (GIS) and remote sensing which are tools used in heritage research , location of archaeological sites, roads, rivers, property boundaries, etc. This technology is very useful in research and can be used in heritage site protection, preservation and tourism.

2002

  • Offered community training in GPS (global positioning) & GIS (geographical information systems) Technologies
  • Seawall & Boardwalk constructed around Black Burial Ground
  • Developed the beginning of Heritage Walking Trail
  • Archaeological surveys ongoing
  • Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia, Her Honour, Myra Freeman visited the heritage site in July 2002.
  • Governor General of Canada, Her Excellency, the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson visited the heritage site in October 2002.
  • The Charitable Foundation Trustee Board Members established.

2003

  • Site development continued: addition to St. Paul’s Church to house a gift shop and public washrooms opened November 2003.
  • Black Loyalist Registry has over 1800 registrants.
  • Governor General of Canada, Her Excellency, the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson accepted the invitation to became Patron of the Black Loyalist Heritage Society in April 2003.
  • Hosted an exhibit from Buxton National Historic Site & Museum, “Underground Railroad to Canada.”
  • Organized Black Loyalist Workshop “Sangoma” focusing on Black Loyalist history and promotion with historians, researchers, community liaison, etc to discuss issues, share & compare work and collaborate together.

2004

  • “Remembering Black Loyalists, Black Communities” Exhibit housed at Old School House Birchtown Museum.
  • Launched first season of on site Historical Re-enactments with Black Pioneers Acting Group Association.
  • In March 2004, Ketchum Canada Inc. undertook a Fund Raising Planning Study on behalf of the BLHS to test the feasibility of a proposed campaign for construction of the Black Loyalist Heritage Complex.

2005

  • Launched map & website “Destination Liberty!: Your Guide to Black Historic Traveling Destinations in Nova Scotia Map”- http://www.destinationliberty.org/ a resource to identify and promote the many fascinating African Nova Scotian historic places.
  • Hosted “Mugomeh” Historical & Heritage Research Conference August 12-13, 2005.
  • 2nd annual Historical Re-enactments with two one-act plays written by Dr. Sylvia Hamilton.
  • Thomas A McGuire, Corrine MacLellan & Nancy Keating completed the Business Plan for the Black Loyalist Heritage Museum.
  • Black Loyalists Registry tops 2000 entrants!!

2006

  • Grant of Arms, Supporters, Flag & Badge issued on March 15, 2006 by the Chief Herald of Canada.
  • Governor General of Canada, Her Excellency, the Right Honourable Michaelle Jean accepted the invitation to become Patron of the Black Loyalist Heritage Society in April 2006.

2007

  • Celebrated African Heritage Month with the Honourable Mayann Francis, Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia with Shelburne Christ Church congregation on February 4, 2007.
  • Celebrated African Heritage Month Opening Ceremonies with Her Excellency, the Right Honourable Michaelle Jean, Governor General of Canada at the Black Cultural Centre in Halifax on February 12, 2007. Her Excellency also signed and presented the BLHS board members with the Coat of Arms.
  • St. Paul’s Church, Birchtown was officially de-consecrated on May 6, 2007 by The Right Reverend Bishop Fred Hiltz. At the closing of the ceremony, the baptismal font from St. Paul’s was donated to Christ Church, Shelburne.
  • Successful in obtaining funding from Multiculturalism, the Department of Canadian Heritage, to hire a Project Manager and Site Manager who will work towards implementing several phases of the BLHS Business Plan. The key objectives of the project include planning, developing, implementing and evaluating all stages of capital projects for the museum site development & infrastructure development; developing a long range plan for governing and managing the site; developing and planning for marketing and communication activities.
  • Established the BLHS Steering Committee which is comprised of highly skilled individuals (community members and government representatives) who offer their area of expertise to assist the BLHS in implementing the BLHS Business Plan Implementation Project. Key stakeholders of the committee include representatives from The Department of Canadian Heritage, Citizenship & Immigration Canada, Office of African Nova Scotian Affairs, Office of Economic & Rural Development, Nova Scotia Museum, South West Shore Development Authority, Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, Parks Canada and Department of Transportation & Infrastructure Renewal.

2008

  • Chose a design concept, created by Filum Ltd and Peter Henry Architects, for the Birchtown Interpretive Centre. The Interpretive Centre will serve as the centrepiece for the Black Loyalist Site and help move this significant historical site forward and bring it up to provincial museum standards.

2009

  • Canada Cultural Spaces, Department of Canadian Heritage and Nova Scotia Economic & Rural Development provided funding to develop the Birchtown Interpretive Centre Blueprints. It is the goal of the BLHS to have the new interpretive centre LEED Certified (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) to promote environmentally friendly design and building practices.

2010

  • On March 31st, 2010 received the completed construction documents for the Birchtown Interpretive Centre. The construction documents are comprised of the interpretive centre building plan and specifications which will be used during the completion of the construction project. The various components not only include building and floor plans, but structural, mechanical and electrical drawings as well. These documents will allow the BLHS to put the project out for bid and provide comprehensive instructions to the contractor as to how the project should be constructed.
  • Nova Scotia Department of Rural & Economic Development provided funding to update and revise the 2005 BLHS Business Plan in order to reflect both current and anticipated conditions & tourism trends; plan for a sustainable future; and create an environment for success.
  • On November 25th, 2010, Governor General of Canada, His Excellency, the Right Honourable David Johnston accepted the invitation to become Patron of the Black Loyalist Heritage Society.

2011

  • On February 11th, 2011 the members of the BLHS hosted a “Friend Raising” Dinner at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic with special guest speaker Lawrence Hill.  The dinner marked the launch of the Black Loyalist Heritage Centre Fund-raising Campaign.  As a result, the Black Loyalist Heritage Centre Fund-raising Cabinet has been established whose goal is to raise $1.5M which together with $3M from government will enable the construction of the centre in Birchtown.
  • Senator Donald Oliver, Q.C. accepted our invitation to become Honourary Patron of the Black Loyalist Heritage Society in March 2011.
  • Award winning, celebrated author Lawrence Hill accepted our invitation to become a patron of our Council of Patrons for the Black Loyalist Heritage Society in April 2011.
  • The Honourable Mayann E. Francis, ONS, DhumL, Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia accepted our invitation to become a Lifetime Honourary Patron of our Council of Patrons on April 28, 2011.

2012

  • On February 22nd, 2012 the Government of Canada, along with the Provincial Government of Nova Scotia, publically announced their support of the Black Loyalist Heritage Centre.  Canada Cultural Spaces Fund, Department of Canadian Heritage, will be contributing $1.7 million; Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency will be contributing $800,000 and the Province of Nova Scotia will be contributing $750,000.
  • June 27th, 2012 marks the historic event for the Official Ground Breaking Ceremony of the Black Loyalist Heritage Centre.

2013

  • In December 2013 PCL Constructors Canada Inc was awarded the Design Build Contract to construct the Black Loyalist Heritage Centre.  PCL is a group of independent construction companies that carries out work across Canada, the United States, the Caribbean and in Australia.  PCL is the largest contracting organization in Canada.
  • Skyline Atlantic Canada, in partnership with Lord Cultural Resources and Global Exhibit Technology was awarded the contract in December 2013 for the Design, Fabrication and Installation Services of the Black Loyalist Heritage Centre.  Skyline Atlantic Canada is a full service exhibit design/fabricator that has built a solid reputation for delivering durable, premium quality museum exhibits.  Global Exhibit Technology is a leader in the development of technically sophisticated exhibits with immersive story telling using media production and environmental theming.  Lord Cultural Resources is dedicated to the creation of cultural capital worldwide, planning and managing cultural places and creating programs and resources that deliver excellence.

2014

  • On March 11, 2014 construction of the Black Loyalist Heritage Centre officially started.  The centre is expected to be completed in November 2014.

2015

  • On March 24th, 2015 we held the Soft Launch of the Black Loyalist Heritage Centre where we celebrated the completion of our new building with our funders and supporters.
  • On May 1st, 2015 we officially opened the Black Loyalist Heritage Centre to the public as the 28th member of the Nova Scotia Museums and we have welcomed many visitors, school groups, researchers and others seeking family connections.
  • Working closely with the Nova Scotia Department of Communities, Culture & Heritage and Communications Nova Scotia, the official new brand of the Black Loyalist Heritage Centre was approved on May 11th, 2015.
  • On June 6th, 2015 we marked the official grand opening of the Black Loyalist Heritage Centre, The Journey Back to Birchtown. The celebration included performances by African Nova Scotian artists including Juno award-winner JRDN, Jeremiah Sparks, Dutch Robinson, Shelley Hamilton, Cyndi Cain, the Nova Scotia Mass Choir, the Sierra Leone Dancers, Shauntay Grant and many more. The program also featured John Franklin of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and the Book of Negroes author Lawrence Hill.

2016   

  • In May 2016 A L Arbic Consulting and Barbara Richman completed the Black Loyalist Heritage Society 3 Year Strategic Plan. With the completion of the Black Loyalist Heritage Centre, the Board recognizes it is entering a new phase in its operations and the Strategic Plan was developed to help prioritize the next steps over the next three years.
  • On July 22-24 we celebrated the Black Loyalist Heritage Centre Journey Back to Birchtown first year anniversary. The celebration included a gala dinner with distinguished guest Percy Paris, George Borden and Vanessa Fells.  Other events included performances by African Nova Scotians artists including Reeny Smith, El Jones, The Sanctified Brothers, Keonte Beals, Chelsea Amber, and Women of the Shore.  We also showed the film premier of multi-award winning Nova Scotian filmmaker, writer and educator Sylvia Hamilton’s “Thomas Peters: Man of the People”.
  • On October 20, the Black Loyalist Heritage Society won the Community Development Award held by the Shelburne County Community & Business Excellence Awards.

2017

  • On July 15-16 we celebrated the Canada 150 Journey Back to Birchtown 2nd Anniversary Festival to honour the legacy of Dr. Carrie Best and celebrate Nova Scotia’s Black Loyalist Heritage.  The festival consisted of musical entertainment including J-Bru, Nova Scotia Mass Choir, Alphie Bright, Mark Riley, Ced Marty & Dave.  Spoken word & poetry performed by Andre Fenton and Allysa Flint.  Readings by Juanita Peters, Gloria Wesley and Berma Marshall.  Drumming performed by Halifax Multicultural Drummers, Patrick & Joanna Jarvis, Khalifa Hamilton and Women of the Shore.  Dancing performed by the Maritime Centre for African Dance.  Louise Delisle performed a historical re-enactment.  We also had a quilt display and children’s activities.  We also held a memorial church service with service lead by Rev. Wayne Desmond and music ministry by the Cherry Brook Mass Choir. We held a candlelight vigil and a gospel concert featuring the Sanctified Brothers and Reeny Smith.  Volunteers Barbara & Hank Falk were recognized for their years of service.  We also held the premier of multi-award winning Nova Scotian filmmaker, writer and educator Sylvia Hamilton’s vignette “Dr. Carrie Best – Champion for Human Rights – I Am Somebody”.
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