and art cel­e­brates Nova Sco­tia’s African-Cana­dian fam­i­lies

Cape Breton Post - - ARTS/ENTERTAINMENT -

re­mem­ber that sweet grass/that grew in the yard/right next to Grandaddy’s shed/and I re­mem­ber run­nin’ bare­foot through sum­mer/laughin’/and playin’ tag and hide & go seek/’til the sun got tired and went to sleep.”

A fam­ily walks, runs through tall sum­mer grass, waist high flow­ers sway in the breeze, an over­sized lady bug poised to take flight from a blos­som.

Other words and pic­tures cel­e­brate everyday mo­ments of grace such as a kitchen sing-a-long, a mom in the back­seat of the fam­ily ad­just­ing lit­tle sis­ter’s pig­tails while big sis­ter rides up front with dad, kids lay on the grass savour­ing sweet rain­bow coloured Mr. Freezes.

The words by Shauntay Grant and the pic­tures by Su­san Tooke unite in the chil­dren’s book, Up Home, dis­trib­uted by Nim­bus Press.

An ex­hi­bi­tion of Tooke’s orig­i­nal art for Grant’s book of mem­o­ries of grow­ing up in North Pre­ston (apt­edly de­scribed by a speaker as “Canada’s largest and most im­por­tant African-Cana­dian com­mu­ni­ties”) opened this week at the Cape Bre­ton Cen­tre for Craft and De­sign on Char­lotte Street in Syd­ney.

The exhibit, cir­cu­lated by the Art Gallery of Nova Sco­tia, ar­rives in time to cel­e­brate African Her­itage Month.

Nova Sco­tia Lt.-Gov. Mayann E. Fran­cis, who grew up in Whit­ney Pier’s African-Cana­dian com­mu­nity, per­fectly de­scribed Grant’s story in her open­ing re­marks as “fa­mil­iar and unique”.

By show­ing one fam­ily at one time cel­e­brat­ing their own tra­di­tions, the Lt.-Gov. said we can see “our own fam­i­lies in the por­trait” and gain “a deeper ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the com­mon­al­i­ties that link all cul­tures.”

Grant is a writer, spo­ken word per­former, mu­si­cian, and broad­cast jour­nal­ist (she hosts All The Best on CBC Ra­dio One). Up Home, since its release in 2008, re­ceived two At­lantic Book Awards for best At­lantic pub­lished book and the Lil­lian Shep­herd Memo­rial Award for ex­cel­lence in il­lus­tra­tion.

Su­san Tooke grew up in New Jer­sey, moved to Canada in 1980, lives in Hal­i­fax where, since 2000, she has il­lus­trated many award­win­ning chil­dren’s books.

She spent two days be­fore the exhibit open­ing at Whit­ney Pier’s Har­bour­side Ele­men­tary School, con­duct­ing art work­shops with the stu­dents. Their work is also a part of the Up Home exhibit.

Chris, a Har­bour­side stu­dent, wrote this about his paint­ing of a horse on a field of green: “me and my grand­fa­ther feed­ing the chick­ens. The horse her name was Bai­ley. My grand­fa­ther loved his horse.”

His­tory moves on; fam­ily abides.

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