News at the University of New Brunswick

Black History Month posters share stories of Black New Brunswickers

Author: UNB Newsroom

Posted on Feb 26, 2021

Category: myUNB , UNB Saint John

A poster exhibit on display at the Market Square Saint John Free Public Library is telling the stories of 28 prominent Black New Brunswickers during Black History Month.

The Rediscovering the Roots of Black New Brunswickers campaign is a collaboration between the UNB Art Centre, the Bi-Campus Standing Committee on Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Human Rights and the Black History Month Organizing Committee at UNB.

It grew from a 2020 exhibit housed on UNB’s Fredericton and Saint John campuses, which featured the images of Black New Brunswickers who have made significant contributions in shaping the province. On display in the Student Union Building in Fredericton and the Hans W. Klohn Commons in Saint John, the posters were well received and generated significant positive feedback. David Ross, head librarian at UNB Saint John and a member of the Black History Month Organizing Committee, said they wanted even more people to see the posters.

“When I talked to Laura Corscadden, the city librarian, about loaning our posters to them to be part of their Black History Month display, she was very enthusiastic about the idea,” says Ross. “The posters have been on display in the Market Square branch all month and Laura tells me they’ve generated a lot of positive interest.”

Akosua Appiah-Kubi, a fourth-year student and president of the UNB Saint John African Caribbean Society, was particularly struck by the story of Mary Matilda Winslow, the first Black woman to attend and graduate from UNB.

“She was a double minority – Black and a woman,” Appiah-Kubi says. “Against all odds, she was able to come to UNB. I found Mary’s story very interesting. She faced racism and was able to speak up against it. I can relate to her.”

Appiah-Kubi says it’s crucial to reflect on the history of Black people in the country.

“A part of Canada’s contribution to racial issues is the fact that many don’t acknowledge that there’s a Black identity in Canada,” she says. “I think this is the beginning of a reconciliation and the beginning of being responsible and acknowledging there are other groups who form part of Canada’s identity, and they are just as important as everyone else.”

Appiah-Kubi, who came to Canada from Ghana, says telling stories, such as those captured in the posters of Rediscovering the Roots of Black New Brunswickers, will help move the discussion forward – especially in Atlantic Canada, where Black experiences can be downplayed or erased under the cloak of Maritime friendliness and hospitality.

“Like Mary Matilda Winslow, I’m a Black woman attending UNB. People don’t realize that, sometimes in class, you’re the only Black person in the room. Thinking of her experience mirroring mine stuck with me, and by sharing her amazing story, it could stick with other Black little girls who are going to attend UNB in the future.”

Media contact: Kelsey Pye