Classes begin August 4!
For application information, please scroll down to "Enrolling at the African Nova Scotian Freedom School."
WHO ARE WE?
The African Nova Scotian Freedom School (ANSFS) is a summer program that was founded in 2020 by longtime, Black community educators in Nova Scotia who believe in the fundamental brilliance, aptitude, and leadership capacity of our children and teens, as well as culturally-grounded curricula that guides and supports these traits. We believe in working together in a non-hierarchical fashion, sharing decision-making collectively, and honor the unique strengths and assets each person brings to this community project. We are grounded in a commitment of service to our people. For us, as beloved educator Wade Smith often said, giving back "is not a choice, but an obligation" to our community and crucially, the next generation.
The ANSFS was co-founded by Karen Hudson, Wendie Poitras Wilson, Malik Adams, Marsha Hudson-Ash, Venessa Brooks, Rashida Symonds, Kim Cain, and Rachel Zellars.
WHAT IS A FREEDOM SCHOOL?
The African Nova Scotian Freedom School (ANSFS) arises from the long tradition of popular education learning spaces created to affirm and reflect the lives of Black children and the rich histories of Black people in North America. Historically, Freedom Schools arose during the Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi and other parts of the US South as both educational and organizing spaces that developed and practiced liberatory pedagogical practices.
Recently, in cities throughout North America, Black community organizers and organizations have rebirthed the conceptual model of Freedom Schools, such as FREEDOMSCHOOL Toronto, to ensure the most inclusive learning environments for all Black children – including neurodiverse, gender non-conforming and gender creative children, and queer children. These spaces also convey affirmative histories of Black struggle, resistance, and freedom-making in North America, and help children and teens understand how to become organizers in the service of their families and communities. The ANSFS continues this legacy of freedom schools for Black children and teens.
WHAT DO WE LEARN TOGETHER?
In August, a month-long curriculum focusing on the histories and lessons of our current global atmosphere of protest against anti-black state violence, and the long history of activism led by African Nova Scotians will provide local historical and social justice education that conveys the significance of these struggles and prepares students, ages 12-18, with the fortitude to lead. The month-long curriculum is grounded in a popular education approach — one that begins with a question or series of questions and allows a facilitator educator to provide context and history in order to guide a conversation that is laterally shared by all. The final week offers a series of calls to action.
A holistic wellness and/or somatics practice will be an important grounding component of each class meeting. Inspired by the healing work of therapist Resmaa Menakem, teachers and students will be introduced to basic wellness, meditation, somatic, and self-regulatory techniques that help calm and soothe the body and nervous system during encounters with stress.
Finally, the curriculum is one that is abolitionist at heart. We understand that the concept is both new to many and expansive in its definition. Yet, we believe that love for our people and our collective freedom means reckoning with the intentional design of policing, surveillance systems, and prisons to continue the work of slavery and settler colonialism. As such, the curriculum is not focused on reforming these systems. Rather, the curriculum will help students understand the history of abolition; help students articulate its demands and possibilities; and provide tools to help the next generation shape a world that is abolitionist by design.
“The mandate for Black life: to avenge the suffering of our ancestors, to earn the respect of future generations, and to be transformed in the service of the work. Let’s get free ya’ll!”