Nova Scotia

North Preston community celebrates 'one big happy family'

This weekend one of Canada's oldest black communities celebrated the 10th annual North Preston Day with a parade, fireworks and a king and queen pageant.

10th annual North Preston Day featured parade, fireworks and king and queen pageant

Hundreds came out to celebrate the 10th annual North Preston Day. (Emma Davie/CBC)

If you ask anyone in North Preston, N.S., what they love about their community, the answer is often the same: it's one big family.

This weekend one of Canada's oldest black communities celebrated the 10th annual North Preston Day with a parade, fireworks and a king and queen pageant.

"It was definitely a homecoming. We have such a large family that has left the community, but they remember to come back," organizer Michelle Cain said on Sunday. "The community is my everything. It's my beginning, my present and my future."

Eight-year-old Rion Smith, left, and Audrina Borden, 10, said they love that everyone in North Preston is family. (Emma Davie/CBC)

Community to return to church next month after fire

On Sunday, there was a barbecue, recognition for some of the community elders and a church service.

This past March, there was a fire at the community's church, St. Thomas United Baptist Church. Since then, people have gathered to worship at the community centre.

"That just shows you how strong the community is. You can take us out of the building, but the church is within us," Cain said, adding that they should be ready to move back into the church next month.

"It's like we're one big happy family," she said. 

'Everybody knows each other'

The young people in North Preston share that sense of community.

"What I like about North Preston is everybody knows each other. And they just get along," said eight-year-old Rion Smith, who grew up in Toronto.

"In Toronto, it's a big city and nobody knows nobody ... We're the largest black community in Canada, but it's not just a black community, it's a multicultural community as well."

Samuel Provo-Benoit, 27, said North Preston Day "brought joy" to his heart. (Emma Davie/CBC)

Samuel Provo-Benoit, 27, has lived in North Preston his entire life and said everyone knows everyone. 

"So if I was down the street or down the road and I was acting up, I knew by the time I got home down the hill, my mother would already know what I had done," he said, laughing. "I love that."

Provo-Benoit said whether it's a funeral, a wedding, a baby shower or North Preston Day, the community always comes out to support each other.

"It's a great, great feeling. Especially all of the hardships and the struggles that we went through the last couple of years with all the shooting and the violence, to come together and see something peaceful, something happy, brought joy to my heart."
Gloria Simmons, who is 84 years old, has lived in North Preston her whole life. (Emma Davie/CBC)

'You're more than welcome to come here'

Vivian Cain, co-ordinator of North Preston Day, said she worries the community is often portrayed in a poor light.

"The children, they hear nothing but negativity. This is a positive event where everybody comes together as a community and they look forward to it," she said.

For Miranda Cain, she said she hopes to see the event continue to grow each year.​

"It was a blessing to let people see we can mingle together. And you're more than welcome to come here ... If we can go into the city and celebrate, you can come to us," she said.