Water is central to our story. My ancestors, the Black Refugee-Survivors of the War of 1812, were bold freedom runners – they were courageous, tenacious, willful. Had my forebears not been imaginative, creative and determined, they would never have survived. I would not exist. They were the original Afro-futurists. I am who they imagined.
Sylvia D. Hamilton is a Nova Scotian filmmaker, writer, multi-media artist known for her award-winning documentary films and her publications, presentations, and extensive volunteer work with artistic, social, and cultural organizations at the local and national levels. Her films include Black Mother Black Daughter, Speak It! From the Heart of Black Nova Scotia, Portia White: Think on Me, and The Little Black School House; they have been broadcast in Canada and screened at national and international festivals. Her 2014 poetry collection, And I Alone Escaped to Tell You, was a finalist for several awards. Excavation: A Site of Memory, a multi-media installation,has been shown in galleries and museums in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario and Quebec.
One adaptation titled Here We Are Here, gave its name to the 2018 Royal Ontario Museum’s (ROM) national group exhibition titled, Here We Are Here: Black Canadian Contemporary Art.
Her recognitions include several honorary degrees, a Gemini Award, and the 2019 Governor General’s Award in History (Popular Media). She has a B.A. from Acadia University and an M.A. from Dalhousie University. She held Nancy’s Chair in Women’s Studies at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax and has taught and given lectures at many universities in Canada, and at Middlebury College in Vermont, and the University of the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica. After her retirement from the University of King’s College in 2020, where she held the Rogers Chair in Communications in the School of Journalism, King’s named her an Inglis Professor and launched five annual awards in her name for African Canadian students.
Photo credit: Adams Photography