Sylvia Hamilton is an award-winning Nova Scotian filmmaker dedicated to the preservation of Black history and education. Together with Claire Prieto, one of Canada’s first Black filmmakers, they made the 1989 documentary Black Mother Black Daughter. Narrated by Hamilton, she explores the history of Black Nova Scotia through the lineage of women descending from the Black Loyalists and slaves that came over in the 1800s. From Africville to the 80s, she looks for the evidence of Black communities in the surrounding areas of Shelburne and Birch Town, trying to reclaim the history through the stories of women living in Nova Scotia.
Black Mother Black Daughter introduces us to the heart of Black Nova Scotia through interviews with women such as Cleo Wiley, who fostered over 20 children, multi-generational basket weaver Edith Clayton and Daureen Lewis, the first female Black mayor in Canada and a direct descendant of Rose Fortune, the first female police officer in North America.
Each story is inspiring, and the film is punctuated by music from For the Moment comprised of women who sing the praises of historical Black women of Nova Scotia. The sense of identity and pride is clear, and the preservation of that pride is an urgent exercise that still rings true today.