TRURO, N.S. – A presentation honouring the unsung athletes of Truro’s African Nova Scotian community will be held during Black History Month.
The presentation, ‘Our Story: The history of Hockey and Truro’s Black Community,’ will bring to light the stories of local African Nova Scotian athletes from the early days of hockey whose stories may not be as well-known as others.
“We’ve all heard the stories of Willie O’Ree or Chuck Maxwell,” said Nevin Jackson, who is leading Tuesday’s presentation.
“But there are other individuals from back then who were very prominent in the hockey scene whose stories haven’t been shared that widely. This is an opportunity to share and expand on those stories that deserve to be told to a wider audience.”
The presentation, which will be held at the Marigold Cultural Centre, will highlight the more unknown talents from Truro’s African Nova Scotian community and the contributions they made to the local, provincial and national hockey scenes.
Highlights will include notable players such as Bob Mentis who was regarded as the best hockey player ever seen by multiple early NHL players, and the story of the Coloured Hockey League which was founded in Nova Scotia in 1895.
“My hope for the presentation would be to have a few individuals from the audience share their stories from back in the day as well,” said Jackson.
“We have a couple of older gentlemen who will be there, including one in particular who has some great stories about growing up in Truro and playing hockey. Hopefully there will be some time after the intermission for people to get on the mike and share their memories.”
For African Nova Scotians in the late 1800s and early 1900s, hockey was a prominent pastime in their communities, and due to its low cost and the availability of play surfaces, many kids used the sport as a way to break through social barriers of the time.
“For the most part, during competition it was almost an equal playing field, which you didn’t find in society in general back then,” said Jackson.
“If you could help your team win and beat the other team, the colour of your skin was often ignored, at least for those 60 or so minutes. I think that speaks to why so many of our black athletes excelled, because they gravitated to those areas where they could really feel good about who they were and the talents they possessed.”
The presentation is being held on Tuesday, Feb. 6, and is free for anyone to attend. Audience members interested in sharing stories of Truro’s hockey history and its roots in the African Nova Scotian communities are asked to bring any old photos they may have as well.
The presentation starts at 7 p.m.
If You Go
Our Story: The history of Hockey and Truro’s Black Community
Marigold Cultural Centre
Tuesday, Feb. 6 – 7 p.m.
Admission is free