5 Places You Can Explore Black Nova Scotia | Visit Halifax | Halifax, Nova Scotia
René Boudreau had never considered entrepreneurship as a career option until she encouraged others to do so. At 18, she was running entrepreneur camps through the Black Business Association, allowing black youth to think about starting their own businesses in the future. This would become one of many jobs Boudreau would work for a community nonprofit organization, but it would have a lasting impact on his life.
While studying sociology at Dalhousie, Boudreau’s interest in starting a business was piqued. This will stay that way until she graduates in 2015, when she begins to seriously think about what kind of business she could run.
“Business people say you have to be really passionate about what you do,” she says. “So I was doing some soul searching, like, ‘What am I most passionate about? The community is one. And traveling is another.
A combined love of these two things – community and travel – has resulted in Elevate and Explore Black Nova Scotia, a project that encourages black travelers to visit the province. Through social media, Boudreau promotes local black-owned businesses, places rich in history, and even places she loves, from natural attractions to tourist destinations. the the project’s Instagram page presents bright and cheerful photos of black people enjoying some of these different places. Sadly, it’s a refreshing sight: these kinds of photos aren’t common on most travel or tourism websites, which don’t often show diverse travelers.
“You go where you are represented,” explains Boudreau. “If people on the outside don’t see themselves represented in the Nova Scotia brochure or the Nova Scotia website or whatever, they might think, ‘I don’t really want to go there really. .
Boudreau, who works for the Association of Black Social Workers, finally launched Elevate and Explore in late 2019, just months before the pandemic made international (and even domestic) travel difficult, to say the least. say. While this might seem like the worst time to launch a travel-centric initiative, she says it was surprisingly perfect: the restrictions gave her time to really think about who she was trying to reach and how best to get there. do it. Although initially focused on travelers from out of province, the pandemic allowed Boudreau to focus more locally, reaching black Nova Scotians who did not feel welcome or invited to the area. tourist areas.
“I have friends who are from here, who have lived here all their lives, but who have never been to Peggys Cove,” she says. “We can also be in these spaces. ”
Boudreau grew up on West Prince Street (or “The Island”), a black community in Truro, and currently lives in East Preston. As a child, she was not particularly interested in exploring Nova Scotia – her interests revolved mainly around sports such as competitive swimming and soccer. It was in grade 6 that she first flew on a family vacation to Cuba and developed a love of travel and discovery that would follow her into adulthood. Now, she wants to create a community of people who are just as enthusiastic about traveling, especially within the communities that she loves.
Although Elevate and Explore Black Nova Scotia has only been around for a little over two years, the response has been overwhelming. Boudreau says she has heard from people planning to visit the province because they are inspired by her Instagram page, as well as locals exploring it for the first time. She has also had the opportunity to partner with local businesses and initiatives: she hosted a bike tour with I Heart Bikes Halifax last year, partnered with Tourism Nova Scotia and earned opportunities for influence on the South Shore.
Even though Boudreau had an impressive start, she assures us that this is only the beginning. She hopes Elevate and Explore will continue to grow, eventually becoming a full-fledged business with staff and in-person programs like tours. She plans to launch an official website in the coming months to complete the Instagram page, and says she’s working on several currently running events that she can’t wait to share (keep an eye out!).
René Boudreau is used to sharing great travel tips. As the founder of Elevate and Explore Black Nova Scotia, she spent a year and a half encouraging people to explore everything the province has to offer: from black-owned restaurants to wineries and its favorite natural attractions.
Here are some places Boudreau recommends visiting both in and around HRM, with a focus on black-owned businesses and historic sites.
Black Cultural Center for Nova Scotia, Darmouth
The Black Cultural Center is a provincial museum and cultural center dedicated to preserving the rich history and culture of African Nova Scotians. Boudreau says it’s a beautiful and welcoming place to learn about local black history, and a must-see for anyone who has never been there.
R&B Kitchen, Dartmouth
What sets this soul food restaurant apart is its ever-growing list of good dishes. Rather than a set menu, R&B Kitchen changes things every day, creating a ‘daily plate’ that is shared on social media. While these can range from mac and cheese trimmed to jerk salmon, there’s one part of the menu that stays consistent: Oxtail Fridays. Boudreau says this location is near the Black Cultural Center, making it easy to see multiple stops during the same outing.
Mary’s African Cuisine, Halifax
If you find yourself on Barrington Street, Boudreau recommends that you stop by Mary’s African Cuisine, which offers authentic Ghanaian flavors. While Boudreau’s favorite thing to order is the meat pies, she says this place has a lot of great vegetarian options too. “Usually when you walk in you see Mary herself, so you can put a name in front of it, which is nice,” Boudreau adds.
Africville Museum, Halifax
If you’re from the province, you probably know at least part of Africville’s history: An African Nova Scotian community settled near Halifax Harbor in the 1860s and was destroyed a century later in name of industrialization, its inhabitants forcibly displaced. Today, the Africville Museum is housed in a replica church that once existed in the community, featuring superb exhibits on the history, culture, and unjust destruction of the community. Please note: the museum reopens on June 30, 2021.
Le Biscuit Eater Café & Books
If you’re traveling outside of Halifax, South Shore’s Biscuit Eater is also worth a visit. This community-driven, black-owned place offers a nice range of baked goods, teas, and breakfasts.