Honouring Black Excellence in the Nova Scotia Construction Industry

February is Black History Month. Although February has been designated as the official month to celebrate Black history, every day is an occasion to highlight the monumental significance of Black Nova Scotian contributions and the vital role they have played in shaping Nova Scotia’s past, present and future.

Join CANS as we celebrate the achievements of Black Nova Scotians who are building our communities and advancing the construction industry. Throughout the month, and the rest of the year, we’ll honour Black excellence in our industry through profiles of people and businesses and provide tools and resources to help support your organization.


What is Black History Month?

During Black History Month, people in Canada celebrate the many achievements and contributions of Black Canadians and their communities who, throughout history, have done so much to make Canada the culturally diverse, compassionate, and prosperous nation it is today. Learn more about Black History Month in Canada here.

The African Nova Scotian Flag

Designed by Wendie L. Wilson, this flag was unveiled in 2021. Learn more about the meaning of the African Nova Scotian flag and the story of its creation and adoption from the Africentric Learning Institute of Nova Scotia.

Profiling Black Excellence in NS Construction

Get to know Tanya Reddick, Building Futures for Youth Engagement Lead, CANS

The Building Futures for Youth program provides Grade 10 & 11 students with an opportunity to explore careers in the construction industry.

Tell us what you like to do outside of CANS. What are you passionate about?
I enjoy coaching youth basketball. Watching folks develop skills and grow is inspiring to me. I also continue to play basketball and softball, hike trails and travel. I am passionate about helping others help themselves.

Tell us about what you do at CANS.
In my new role as Building Futures for Youth (BFY) Engagement Lead, I will be interacting with youth in communities throughout Nova Scotia to bring light to our BFY Program and the need to continue to build the workforce in the construction industry.

What made you want to apply for a career at CANS?
I have always had an interest in the construction industry from my appreciation of developing and building things. I was working as a property manager when I saw a posting for Members Services Specialist. It was time for a change and an opportunity to learn more about the industry.

How have your role and responsibilities evolved over your time with the Association?
In my former, role I met and greeted members and partners. I was responsible for providing services but mostly from behind the scenes. As I attended more CANS events I had a chance to engage with the members more. In my new role, I will connect with youth and community members to help bridge gaps and build relationships with partners.

What made you want to apply for your current role as Community Engagement Lead?
I felt comfortable enough in my former role that I wanted to do more with CANS and for the industry. I saw an opportunity to help folks help themselves.

What do you like about working in the construction industry?
I like the collaboration among different groups. How the professionals, trades and service providers work together to create a vision. I also appreciate the long-term maintenance of the finished product. I enjoy the growth and learning opportunities too.

What is your proudest moment or accomplishment in your career?
Thus far, it was being offered the BFY Engagement Lead role. I feel like I have worked hard over the years and this is the level up. It is new to me and necessary for us.

What do you hope to achieve in the next 5 years?
To help increase the stream of youth workers and owners that will filter into the industry to keep it thriving.

What excites you about the future of CANS, community engagement and the construction industry?
Enlightening youth to the endless opportunities in the industry. There is something for everybody.

What does being black and working in this industry mean to you?
It means working in an industry that is continuing to make strides toward an inclusive workplace. It means the opportunity is open to me too. It means being accepted for who I am and what I can contribute.

What piece of advice would you give to a black person considering a career in construction?
Show up and do your best work.

Black History in Nova Scotia

Black Loyalists Arrival in Nova Scotia –

During the American Revolutionary War thousands of African Americans, most seeking to escape enslavement, fought for the British in exchange for “Freedom and a Farm.” The better life the Loyalists sought did not come without cost. Learn more about the arrival of Black Loyalists in Nova Scotia.

Contributions of Jamaican Maroons –

Read about the history of the Jamaican Maroons, who in their short time in the province helped build the city of Halifax, including some of its greatest landmarks, the waterfront, Government House and Citadel Hill. Learn more.

Refugees from the War of 1812 —

A third wave of Black migration into Nova Scotia came during and after the War of 1812, once again in connection with an international conflict. As had happened during the American Revolution, the British once again issued proclamations aimed at attracting Blacks in the United States to relocate to British colonies. As with the Black Loyalists, a large number of American Blacks once again chose freedom in Nova Scotia over slavery in the United States. Learn more.

Arrival of Caribbean Migrants —

A fourth major migration of Blacks to Nova Scotia – more specifically to industrial Cape Breton – began early in the 20th century. It came in two separate streams, one from Alabama and another from the Caribbean, especially Barbados. These groups came not in a quest for freedom but to obtain good-paying jobs in the newly developing steel and coal industries. Learn more.

No. 2 Construction Battalion –

The No. 2 Construction Battalion was the only Canadian battalion in the First World War composed of Black soldiers. The No. 2 Construction Battalion was raised in Nova Scotia in response to petitions by Black men who wanted to serve their country but were turned away at recruiting offices. Learn more.

The Story of Africville –

Black people have lived in Nova Scotia since before the founding of Halifax in 1749. Because of racism, Black settlers were pushed to the margins of society. Despite this, they persevered, developing strong, vibrant communities. Africville was one such place.

In January 1964, Halifax City Council voted to authorize the relocation of Africville residents. Those who refused could have their lands expropriated by the city. In the end, despite resistance, all residents were relocated. Learn more about the history and destruction of Africville. 


Panel // Experiencing Inclusion and Diversity in the Workplace: Challenges and Solutions

Lack of inclusion and diversity has increasingly challenged our workplace. Is our workplace encouraging building and fostering positive relationships and a culturally responsive environment, and is our workplace a respectful environment that promotes diversity in thoughts and resolving complex issues?

Webinar // Business Support Series: Challenges and Opportunities for Canadian Black Entrepreneurs

This year the Halifax Chamber of Commerce has partnered with the Federation of African Canadian Economics (FACE) to discuss the barriers that black entrepreneurs face today and the resources that are available to them FACE is a national and bilingual Black-led non-profit organization focused on providing resources and information to the Black community across Canada with the aim of accelerating wealth creation for Canadians of African descent.

Community Engagement Session // Let’s Talk about Equity and Anti-Racism Issues

The Nova Scotia Office of Equity and Anti-Racism Initiatives (OEA) and the Cape Breton Partnership invite Cape Breton – Unama’ki residents and businesses to join them for an open virtual discussion on the proposed legislation on equity and anti-racism poised to be introduced in the spring session of the legislature.

This legislation intends to have a positive impact on government policy outcomes affecting various aspects of Nova Scotians’ lives and input/feedback directly from our communities will be key in ensuring the legislation is strong and effective.

Information Session // Building Community Connections – An Introduction to the Black Business Initiative

CANS is proud to partner with the Black Business Initiative (BBI) to offer this free informational session to our members.

This informational session will cover:

  • Services for businesses
  • Diversity, equity and inclusion consulting
  • Becoming an ally
  • Business is Jammin’, BBI’s youth charity initiative

Speaker: Matthew Martel, PMP, Chief Operating Officer, BBI

Tools and Supports

Supports & Resources —
Anti-Racism and Diversity Resources —