By Amy Woolvett
THE COAST GUARD
The Black Loyalist Heritage Centre-presented by Emera, will be a $4.9-million, 10,500 square foot museum that will be the first of its kind in North America, telling the story of the Black Loyalists’ journey from Africa, to the United States in the early 18th century, to Birchtown in 1783 and in some cases, back again to Sierra Leone.
“As visitors approach the building they will encounter an open plaza rich with interpretive elements related to the Black Loyalist story,” read the business plan. “The surface of the plaza will feature textural elements and embedded materials that speak to the experience of enslavement but that have been cast aside in the journey towards freedom.”
As visitors explore the centre they will be immersed in the story of the Black Loyalists.
A feature wall will emphasize the journey of the Black Loyalists across oceans and through time with authentic memories and experiences through quotations, statements and words.
Visitors will be able to explore the surrounding site via trails and walking paths where they can explore the pit house reproduction and see what it was like for Black Loyalists early in their settlement.
Exhibits will be a main feature presenting through displays their struggles over the first winter and through their time in Birchtown,
The society aims to increase awareness of the significant contributions made by the Black Loyalists. They believe that the story of the Black Loyalists journey is an important part of the nations history.
The history of the Black Loyalists was ignored for too long and it is the intention of the society to share their story far and wide.
It is projected that the centre will attract close to 10,000 visitors annually, with just over 6,500 paying admission.
About 20 percent of the $300,000 yearly operating budget is expected to be paid by self-generating forms of revenue with the remainder coming from the province as a part of the Nova Scotia museum system.
They expect that the opening of the centre, July 2013 will coincide with the Shelburne Founder’s Days celebrations.
The centre’s goal will be to research, interpret, safeguard and promote the history and heritage of Black Loyalists and their descendants from their origins in Africa to the present day. They will develop as complete an understanding as possible of the history of Black Loyalists from the 1770’s to today and will ensure the chronicles and contributions of Black Loyalists share a place with other communities as well as to participate in activities that help cohesion.