We Are Here is an exhibit displaying the record of Black Canadians, specifically East Coast New Brunswickers. The gallery took place place in the U.N.B. Memorial Hall Arts Center. The grand opening was on February 24th and the exhibit ran until March 17th. 


After a remarkable investigation into the richness of Black communities in New Brunswick, this exhibition highlights the stories and cultural significance Of many prominent Black figures. Black Canadian’s stories and contributions towards creating a more equitable future widen opportunities to share black accomplishments. 


Contributions and struggles as members of a historically oppressed group are highlighted in panels demonstrating a solid and resilient Black community in Eastern Canada thanks to the efforts and research of U.N.B. students and educators for a project of Rediscovering the Roots of Black New Brunswickers: Carlie Manners (2019-20), Em Allen (2020-21), Harrison Dressler (2021-22), and Brad Ackerson (2022-23). 


Advised by an advocate and educator, Mary McCarthy-Brandt and Jennifer Dow, a research specialist in genealogy and founding member of New Brunswick’s Black Arts Alliance, their objective is to promote awareness of New Brunswick’s diverse Black history. The guest speakers and attendees included David Coon, Green Party Leader, Hon. Arlene Dunn, an M.L.A. for Saint John, and Naiomi Drummond Lesie, a community activist since age 10 when she advocated for the province’s education system to include Black history. 


Black people did not have a place in the white narrative colonial history of New Brunswick until recently, and this exhibition has documentation and evidence that they have been here since the 1800s. They recognize that these great individuals’ intricate and resilient lives are essential to complete the narrative of Black New Brunswick’s struggle for freedom and equality. 


These individuals have some of the most outstanding achievements that New Brunswick has, for example, Ralph “Tiger” Thomas and Saint John is a resident, prominent community activist, amateur boxer, founder of the Golden Gloves Club, member and former president of PRUDE, and Co-founder of New Brunswick’s Black History Society. Naomi Drummond Leslie; secretary at Women’s Auxiliary of the Black Community. Naomi and her family attended the opening with her grandmother, who kept these individuals’ stories and legacies alive through the art of sharing stories. Black communities and women have been leaders in creating events, spaces, and organizations to advance equity and human rights. 


In the East wing, a gallery shows the pictures and stories of 45 individuals hanging around Fredericton during February. The achievements, biographies and photographs displayed at the U.N.B. Art Center are numerous accomplished black individuals whose dedication to significant provocations and their stories inspire and demonstrate the accomplishments of Black Canadians. Elm Hill is the last standing Black community, although this connected Black community shares the stories of being Black in Canada. 


Racism is an experience that minorities have to experience every day, and as a society, we are obligated to eradicate it; through increased education and awareness through events such as this one, we can bring awareness to Black history, widening understanding and erasing stereotypes. Racism also must be addressed through anti-racist legislation and Black representation in political arenas. The exhibition gives prominence to the ancestral diversity of Black Canadian culture and whose hard work and dedication helped shape contemporary New Brunswick. 

Link for U.N.B. art center featured posters:


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