Nova Scotia·Nova Scotia Votes

Record number of Black MLAs elected to Nova Scotia Legislature

Four Black MLAs are headed to the Nova Scotia Legislature. Before Tuesday's provincial election, there was just one Black MLA at Province House.

Prior to this election, only 5 Black MLAs had ever been elected to Province House

Liberal Angela Simmonds, pictured, participates in the North Preston Community Parade on July 24, 2021. Simmonds has been elected in the Preston riding. (Jeorge Sadi/CBC)

Nova Scotians are sending a record number of Black MLAs to Province House.

Before election day on Tuesday, the only Black MLA was Liberal Tony Ince, who represented the riding of Cole Harbour.

Once the winning candidates are sworn in, there will be four Black MLAs in the House of Assembly.

They will include Ince, who beat Progressive Conservative Darryl Johnson and the NDP's Jerome Lagmay to be re-elected in Cole Harbour.

The riding of Preston was guaranteed to be won by a Black person, as the candidates for each of the three main parties were Black. Angela Simmonds won the riding for the Liberal Party, shutting out Archy Beals for the Tories and Colter Simmonds for the New Democrats.

Simmonds said she was overwhelmed and happy with her win.

An election sign for Halifax Needham candidate Suzy Hansen is shown on Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021. (Rose Murphy/CBC)

"I will look forward to having some conversations about what that looks like for folks and how we will move this forward in terms of supporting people, in particular different diverse communities, to be able to be in a position like myself," said Simmonds, who worked in the provincial Office of Equity and Anti-Racism Initiatives.

In Halifax Needham, the NDP's Suzy Hansen handily won against the Liberals' Colin Coady and the Progressive Conservatives' Scott Ellis. That riding had previously been represented by New Democrat Lisa Roberts, who is now running federally.

Hansen told CBC News she is overjoyed and honoured to represent the riding of Halifax Needham, where she was born and raised.

She said there's a need for more diverse voices in Province House.

"There's so many lenses that we can be looking through right now, especially when it comes to health care and housing and wages," she said. "These are all pieces that need to have a different take and a different look."

Hansen, who is the mother of seven children, said she wants to show her kids they can achieve anything.

Liberal Ali Duale is shown out campaigning during the Nova Scotia election. He won the seat of Halifax Armdale on Tuesday. (Colleen Jones/CBC)

In Halifax Armdale, Ali Duale won the riding for the Liberals in a tight race against the NDP's Julie Melanson. That riding was previously represented by Liberal Lena Metlege Diab, who stepped away from provincial politics to run in the federal election.

Duale and his family fled Somalia in 1991 and spent seven years in a Kenyan refugee camp before coming to Canada, where Duale has worked for the Halifax regional fire department.

Only 5 Black MLAs had ever been elected in N.S.

Prior to this election, only five Black MLAs had ever been elected to Canada's oldest legislature.

In 1993, Wayne Adams was the first Black MLA elected in Nova Scotia, in the riding of Preston.

Yvonne Atwell became the first Black woman elected to the Nova Scotia House of Assembly in 1998 for the riding of Preston.

In 2009, Percy Paris was elected in the riding of Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank.

In 2013, Liberal Stephen Gough won the riding of Sackville-Beaver Bank and Liberal Tony Ince won a seat in Cole Harbour-Portland Valley. It was the only time two Black politicians were elected to the Nova Scotia Legislature at the same time.

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.