African Heritage Month kicks off in Cape Breton with two events designed to engage the whole family. Mayann Francis, lieutenant-governor of Nova Scotia, is a guest at both events to help begin the month-long celebration. “Studying and celebrating the rich heritage of Canadians of African descent adds to our collective culture. It fills in gaps, deepens understanding and brings new voices to the national story,” said Lt.-Gov. Francis. She will be the special guest speaker at the first Celebration Gala dinner and dance, being held at the Membertou Trade and Convention Centre on Saturday, Feb. 2. The Office of African Nova Scotian Affairs partnered with the Menelik Hall Association to organize the event that sold out weeks ago. “The Celebration Gala will create an opportunity for individuals and communities to interact, for the African Nova Scotian community to be recognized for their contributions to the province, and to introduce other events scheduled during the month of February,” said Barry Barnet, Minister of African Nova Scotian Affairs. A partnership with the African Nova Scotian Music Association helped secure Halifax-based rhythm and blues band Asia & Nu Gruv. Popular local band Spyder will also perform and the Inspirational Singers, a local choral group, will sing the black national anthem, Lift Every Voice. On Monday, Feb. 4, the lieutenant-governor will cut a ribbon to unveil a mural that students from Harbourside Elementary School in Sydney have completed. Under the direction of local artist Robin Martelly, in partnership with the Office of African Nova Scotian Affairs, the school and the ArtsSmarts Nova Scotia program, the students have created a work of art that depicts the many cultures that make up the community of Whitney Pier. “The Whitney Pier community is one that is very rich in culture and ethnicity. The mural depicts all of the wonderful cultures, and it creates a template for the children to look at and relate to,” said Stephanie Black, vice-principal of Harbourside Elementary. For information on African Heritage Month and a list of events being held provincewide, please visit the African Nova Scotian Affairs website at www.gov.ns.ca/ansa or call the events line at 424-3482.