OUR COUN­TRY

The star of CBC’S Dig­gstown dis­cov­ers a chap­ter of Canada’s black his­tory in North Pre­ston, N.S.

Canadian Geographic - - CONTENTS - —As told to Michela Rosano

Vinessa Antoine, the star of CBC’S Dig­gstown, on a chap­ter of Canada’s black his­tory in North Pre­ston, N.S.

I re­cently shot the first sea­son of Dig­gstown in Nova Scotia, which is a place I had never vis­ited be­fore. When I started to do research for my char­ac­ter, Mar­cie Diggs, I learned that Nova Scotia has Canada’s old­est and largest black com­mu­nity, North Pre­ston in Hal­i­fax. It was great to visit that com­mu­nity and see the rolling green land­scape, the nearby white sand beaches, the neigh­bour­hoods, the homes, the churches. It was all so beau­ti­ful and raw. The black com­mu­nity in Nova Scotia has some re­ally sad con­nec­tions as to why and how it came to be in Canada, and that brings up all sorts of feel­ings for me. First, I was re­ally an­gry and con­fused that I had not learned about black Cana­dian his­tory and its strong ties to the Mar­itimes in school. I grew up in Scarboroug­h, Ont., but my roots are in the Caribbean; my par­ents are both from Trinidad and Tobago, and my com­mu­nity felt very Caribbean. For many years, I had this in­cor­rect knowl­edge that most black Cana­di­ans were Afro-caribbean. I wish I would have learned ear­lier about African Cana­di­ans and places like North Pre­ston. There were so many black peo­ple who were an in­te­gral part of life through­out Nova Scotia. They owned land and busi­nesses, and were in­volved in a lot of firsts. Take Rose Fortune, for in­stance, who was the first fe­male po­lice of­fi­cer in Canada and lived in An­napo­lis Royal. Know­ing these things ear­lier would have given me more of a sense of iden­tity as a black Cana­dian.

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