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Inspiring stories celebrate Black achievement in Nova Scotia

From an aspiring truck mechanic blazing a trail for African Nova Scotian women, to a former basketball star who found love, marriage and mentorship opportunities in Halifax, these are five features amplifying Black stories and voices in Nova Scotia that you should read right now. 

African Nova Scotian content unit amplifies Black voices throughout the province

From an aspiring truck mechanic blazing a trail for African Nova Scotian women, to a former basketball star who found love, marriage and mentorship opportunities in Halifax, these are five features amplifying Black stories and voices in Nova Scotia that you should read right now. 

The 12-week program offers young entrepreneurs tools and resources to grow their business. (Kyah Sparks/CBC)

N.S. program aims to help young Black women build businesses

When Sherelle Reddick heard about the African Nova Scotian Young Women's Entrepreneurship Program, she knew it was exactly the support she was searching for.

"There's so many options to have one-on-one support in this program," said Reddick, 30, who had the inspiration to launch an online fashion store but didn't know how to get started.

"I literally started the program with an idea and I'm leaving with a business."

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Saedene Simmons is one of the first African Nova Scotian women to study heavy duty equipment and truck and transport repair at NSCC. (CBC)

Aspiring North Preston truck mechanic breaks barriers on two levels

A high school mechanics course wasn't enough to satisfy Saedene Simmons's automotive appetite. As soon as the teenager got home, she insisted on helping her father work on his car.

It's a love that father and daughter have shared for decades. Now at 38, Simmons is making a mid-career shift rarely achieved by any woman, let alone a Black woman.

Simmons is studying to be a truck mechanic.

"I just figured, why not go back to what I love most?" Simmons, a mother of three, told CBC News. "I wanted to be a mechanic coming out of high school, so I figured why not try and see where that takes me."

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Naofall "Ming" Folahan, left poverty in West Africa and became a basketball star in the U.S. before settling in Halifax (CBC)

Former basketball pro finds love, marriage and mentorship opportunities in Halifax

Halifax Prep stands out among most basketball programs, not just in Nova Scotia, but across Canada. Most amateur basketball clubs are itinerant, renting gyms where they can find them and offering in-house leagues and inter-city teams that play most games close to home.

Folahan's program is different.

He transformed Halifax's Olympia Theatre into a basketball-only facility, where players don't have to share time with ball hockey and indoor soccer. The gym floor is cleanly marked with basketball lines — no labyrinth of volleyball, badminton and handball boundaries.

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Soli Productions plans to hit the road, once Covid Restrictions end, to appear in shows overseas. (Gbenga Akintokun/CBC)

Halifax agency models diversity of ages and ethnicities on the runway

Face shields and masks were just one sign of the changing times during a recent fashion show in Halifax.

The presence of Black and brown models, a 62-year-old woman and tattooed men served notice that things are changing in the city's fashion industry.

It's all by design for show organizer Solitha Shortte.

The businesswoman said she's making opportunities for others that are not always available for Black models in Halifax. 

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Civil-rights pioneer Viola Desmond is among those featured in the Blaqk Gold art series that showcases Black community members both famous and unsung. (Donica Willis)

N.S. artist's gold-adorned photos of Black achievers aim to inspire, educate

In 2014, Nova Scotian artist Donica Willis was in a creative rut.

The native of North Preston and East Preston, N.S., tried to shake off her artist's block by toying around with a photograph of R&B star Lauryn Hill, adding gold accents to the singer's ebony features.

What started as an experiment has since morphed into Blaqk Gold, which uses traditional and social media to showcase Black achievers both famous and unsung.

Willis said the positive reaction to the portrait of Hill prompted her to challenge herself to create similar gold-themed transformations every Black History Month.

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For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

(CBC)

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