Health Association of African Canadians came about through the work of some members of the African Nova Scotian community. The preliminary effort of the founding members which consisted of Sharon Davis-Murdoch, Susan (Sue) Edmonds, Josephine Etowa and Yvonne Atwell includes several “Lunch and Learn” workshops sponsored by the Atlantic Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health. In April 2000 the Black Women’s Health Network was created.
The Black Women’s Health Project in conjunction with the Atlantic Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health gathered information and documentation regarding health needs and was awarded a grant from the Population and Health Fund Canada. Atlantic Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health recognizes that the perceptions and voices of Black Nova Scotians are required to help government develop policies that ensure inclusion of the most vulnerable and high risk population in our society. Workshops held within Black communities encouraging Black women’s health in Nova Scotia were initiated. Prior to this time, there existed little or no information regarding the delivery of health care services in Black communities or how they may differ from delivery of health care in other communities.
The Black Women’s Health Project workshops initiated many other events. Participants discovered the essence of community where people lived and worked while adding to the economic development of the Black community. Moreover, these workshops allowed community members the opportunity to meet Black professionals who could serve as role models.
Two years after the Black Women’s Health Project began to operate, it metamorphized into Health Association of African Canadians (HAAC). This change is perceived to liberate the association from its narrow focus on women’s health. HAAC is intended to serve the interest of not only women, but the entire African descent population beyond the geographic borders of Nova Scotia.
HAAC is comprised of volunteers and researchers from academic, community, public policy and clinical agencies who are interested in advancing the current state of health knowledge about African Nova Scotians. The goal of the HAAC is to promote the health of Black Nova Scotian women and their families through community mobilization, development and research. Research on Black health will provide the much needed community capacity, early health intervention, partnership building, and better health outcomes among African Nova Scotians.