Birchtown Home to First Black Heritage Site

Economic Development (to Jan 09)

January 28, 2000 10:20 AM

A partnership between the federal and provincial governments will
help make Birchtown, Shelburne Co., home to Canada's first black
heritage tourism site. Birchtown is the site of North America's
first settlement of free blacks.

The Black Loyalist Heritage Project will research, interpret,
preserve and promote Black Loyalist history. The Black Loyalist
Heritage Complex will include a theatre, genealogical lab,
library, interactive computer centre and retail centre.

Funding for the project was announced today by Andy Mitchell,
Secretary of State for Rural Development and the Federal Economic
Development Initiative, on behalf of the federal government; and
by Shelburne MLA Cecil O'Donnell on behalf of Economic
Development Minister Gordon Balser and Community Services
Minister Peter Christie.

The Government of Canada will invest $87,000 through the Atlantic
Canada Opportunities Agency and $50,000 through Human Resources
Development Canada's local labour market partnership. The
provincial government is also investing in the project with
$50,000 from the Department of Economic Development and $25,000
from the Department of Community Services.

"This project gives us an opportunity to not only preserve Nova
Scotia's black culture and heritage, but also to share it with
others," said Mr. Balser. "Our investment in this national
heritage site will encourage visitors to spend more time in this
scenic and culturally rich area of the province."

"This project is an integral part of government's efforts to
support the revitalization of Shelburne County," said Mr.
Christie. "It will provide new opportunities for individuals to
achieve economic self-sufficiency."

"Working together, the Government of Canada and its partners are
committed to finding ways to help stimulate economic growth in
rural communities," said Mr. Mitchell. "This project is an
excellent example of our efforts to build sustainability in the
area by creating long-term employment opportunities, expanding
tourism activity and capitalizing on its natural strengths such
as its heritage and culture."

The funding will also enable the Black Loyalist Heritage Society
to launch the first Black Loyalist Registry, a directory of
people descending from the original 3,500 Black Loyalist settlers
to the area. The society is a non-profit organization,
incorporated in 1991, dedicated to preserving, interpreting and
promoting African-Canadian history.


     Funding was announced today for Canada's first black

heritage tourism site.

     Birchtown is the site of North America's first settlement of

free blacks.

     The provincial and federal governments are providing over

200-thousand dollars in funding for the project aimed at

preserving and promoting Black Loyalist history.

     The project will include the development of a Black Loyalist

Heritage Complex, and the first registry of Black Loyalist

settlers and their descendants.

     The Black Loyalist Heritage Society has been working on this

project for ten years.


Contact: Adèle Poirier
         Nova Scotia Economic Development

         Tom Peck
         Department of Community Services

         Bob Manuel
         Human Resources Development Canada

         Alex Smith
         Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

kjd                      January 28, 2000     10:15 a.m.