Bernadette Hamilton-Reid talks about advocacy, economics and connectivity in the black community


Bernadette Hamilton-Reid was the Monday Night featured guest on Soundtrack to the Struggle. Photo: Matthew Byard / Original Struggle Soundtrack.

Bernadette Hamilton-Reid describes herself as a lifelong community activist for African Nova Scotian community issues. She currently works as an administrative assistant for the African Nova Scotian Decade for People of African Descent – ANSDPAD or DPAD for short. On Monday, Hamilton-Reid was a guest on The Struggle Soundtrack (a phone show I host from time to time on Facebook Live) where she spoke about her career, the black economy and heroes of the black community. and influences on his life.

Online Advocacy

Hamilton-Reid can often be seen at black events throughout the community. For the past few years, she’s used vlogging and livestreaming at events to help keep the black community connected. She broadcast the Emancipation Day Parade live in Halifax last year.

“There are so many people who are locked in or don’t have the ability to come out and do what I’m doing,” she said, “because they don’t have the flexibility. They may be raising a young family.

“And the feedback I get from people is really overwhelming. They say, ‘I’m so glad you’re here’, ‘I couldn’t get out’, ‘I loved watching it.’ And even some people will say, “I’m sitting on the couch doing nothing,” so they put on their clothes, go out, and join the event.


A smiling woman with glasses wearing earrings that say Black Excellence and a shirt that says Emancipation Day.

Bernadette Hamilton-Reid at the Emancipation Day celebration in Halifax Parade Square, August 2021. Photo: Matthew Byard

She said she tries to make it a point to attend and share events at the Black Cultural Centre, the North Branch Library on Gottingen Street, religious events, government announcements and different award shows, especially those celebrating the achievements of young black people.

“And a lot of times we don’t show up, as black people,” she said. “There are always non-blacks in the crowd who support our people. I find it very important for us to show ourselves and to show that we love our culture and our children as much as anyone else. When I get the chance to go out and invite other people over, it shows that we are a community together.

Community advocacy

Hamilton-Reid hails from the black community of Beechville and has family roots in Cherry Brook, Lake Loon and North Preston. After graduating from the former Sir John A. Macdonald High School, she attended Dalhousie University where she studied for two years in the Bachelor of Commerce program.

She said she is now an “empty nester” after raising two children. She has served on school advisory boards and was the African Nova Scotian School Board representative on the former Halifax Regional School Board. In March 2019, she joined the DPAD in her current role.

“I love the work that DPAD does because it gives African Nova Scotians a strong voice in advocacy,” she said. “Being a strong Christian woman, I think this is where God commanded me to raise my voice and support my colleagues in any way I can through DPAD. It’s a blessing to be here.

She highlighted notable achievements of the DPAD, including its work to bring attention to racial disproportionality in police street checks, which ultimately resulted in the practice being banned in the province. The province also provided $4.3 million to ANSDPAD to establish an African Nova Scotian Justice Institute.

She pointed to the statistic that Black Nova Scotians make up only 3% of the province’s population, compared to 16% of the prison population, as evidence of the need and importance of such initiatives. .

A woman standing in a park with two men, and all three are laughing.

Bernadette Hamilton-Reid, PC MLA candidate Darrell Johnson and PC NS leader Tim Houston at the Emancipation Day celebration in Halifax, August 2021. Photo: Tim Houston/Facebook.

“Anyone who brings their concerns to us and wants to work with us, DPAD is open to working with the community,” she said.

She also talked about some of the different working groups within the DPAD, including a justice working group, a health working group that is planning a black health conference this fall, and a working group on child protection which deals with community service issues.

Black Business and Economy

Hamilton-Reid said she believes in spending money in black communities.

“I try to make sure my dollar goes to the community at least seven times over before I have to outsource it to, say, Walmart or Sobeys,” she said.

After doing her day job at DPAD, she spends her evenings running her own business, Sankofa African Gifts, and an accounting business where she helps other black businesses.

“I have dashikis, earrings, children’s clothes and books,” she said. “Anything you can find that is Eurocentric, I try to produce it in Afrocentric so that we can have our own products and our children can be proud to wear a black doll, to give our parents a card of black wishes or to have a black doll calendar hanging on your wall.

“I have been able to help many entrepreneurs get their books in order, file their tax returns and succeed. I help them take advantage of some of those grants and some of the money they’re missing. Accounting has always been one of my passions for over 25 years.

They are our heroes

Hamilton-Reid spoke about black role models and influences in his life, including the late William P. Oliver, who helped found the Black Cultural Center, Oliver’s late wife Perline, and the couple’s work in various black churches in the province. She also paid tribute to her sister, Dr. Barb Hamilton-Hinch.

A black woman in a dark dress with red hair sits and talks with a black woman, who is also seated, in a pink shirt, with her back to the camera

Barb Hamilton-Hinch is a guest on “Our Stories, Our Experiences with Rajean Willis”. Photo: Matthieu Byard

During the interview, a number of viewers left comments about Hamilton-Reid’s plea.

“You are such a big supporter. I appreciate you Bernadette,” Shelley Fashan wrote. “Don’t forget all the love you show The Emerging Lens.”

The Emerging Lens is a black film festival that Fashan founded with filmmaker, playwright, actress and multidisciplinary artist Tara Taylor. Hamilton-Reid paid tribute to both women.

“They encouraged me to become a filmmaker,” Hamilton-Reid said, “because they know I show up for everything and they know I always have my camcorder running. I turned 30 into a two minute film honoring my mother who passed away last year, God rest her soul.

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