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Communty Profiles












Mayann Francis- Mayann, Francis, a former resident of Whitney Pier is presently the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia. She is a graduate of Dalhousie University and New York University. She served as the Director and CEO of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission. She is the first Black woman to be appointed to positions of these magnitudes. She has worked tirelessly behind the scenes and on the boards in the interest of her community of Whitney Pier and for all of humanity. Mayann was also the first female Ombudsman of Nova Scotia.

Phyllis Arthur -was the first black schoolteacher in Sydney, Nova Scotia. Phyllis began her teaching career in 1955 at a one-room schoolhouse at Meadow’s Road, Sydney Forks, where she taught grades 1 through 8.

Phyllis never planned to become a teacher. Her decision to go to teachers’ college was largely the result of a discussion with then Sydney Academy principal, Dr. G.G, Campbell, who encouraged her to become a teacher.

Phyllis moved to Sydney and began her teaching career in Whitney Pier. She attended school herself in the Pier area and enjoyed the many ethnic backgrounds found in this community.

A few years ago, Community United for Black Education (CUBE) honored her as a role model for black students. Phyllis now retired remains busy doing volunteer work for many community organizations and her church.

Dr. Alvin Calder - Dr. Calder was born in Grenada. The first doctor of African descent to practice medicine in Cape Breton, he was respected and admired by many people. He served as the President of the Medical Association of Cape Breton for several years. Dr. Calder, along with F.A. Hamilton, were instrumental in the building of the Menelik Hall, the first Black owned community hall in the Maritimes.




Carl “Campy” Crawford - In 1964, he became the first Black municipal police officer east of Montreal. His friendly demeanor he had patrolling the streets of Sydney made him a role model to many. Campy was inducted into the Black Wall of Fame at the Black Cultural Centre of Nova Scotia for his accomplishment.

Campy passed away in 2003 after a courageous battle with pancreatic cancer. Since his passing the Cape Breton Regional Municipality has established the Carl “Campy” Crawford Leadership Award in his honor and memory.

George Anthony Francis - George Anthony Francis was born in Santiago, Cuba and as a boy seemed to have a calling toward the ministry. At the age of 20, he moved to New York to pursue his studies in religion under the direction of the African Orthodox Church. After a time he was ordained a priest in the faith.

In 1940 he moved to Sydney and settled in at 19 Hankard Street, where he lived for the next 42 years. He presided over the congregation of the African Orthodox Church in Whitney Pier. In addition to the church duties he gave numerous time to community organizations.

In 1952, he was made a Commissioner of Oaths for the Province of Nova Scotia. In 1980, he received a Community Service Award from the government of NS and a citation for his services to the Canadian Red Cross Society. It should be noted that Fr. Francis was fluent in the Spanish language and acted a s a translator when needed.

In 1978, Fr. Francis became ill but continued working until his death in June of 1982 at the age of 74. Fr. Francis’ death left a void in the community in general but especially at St. Philip’s Church.

His love was like an adhesive that bound the community together.


F.A. Hamilton- F. A. Hamilton was born in the British West Indies. He came to Nova Scotia to attend Dalhousie Law School. After graduating from Dalhousie he became the first Black lawyer in Sydney. In 1950, he was the first Canadian Black to be appointed King’s Counsel. He also established the firs Black newsletter called the Nova Scotia Gleaner. Although published in Sydney, the paper provided news on all Black communities in Nova Scotia.

Victor Jones- Victor was the first Black overman in the Glace Bay mines. For 32 years, he worked underground and another 3 on the surface. Now retired, he serves on various community groups and committees. If there is work to be done to support the Black community, Victory is willing to accept the challenge.

Thomas (Tom) Miller- Thomas Miller was the first Black municipal alderman in the Atlantic Provinces. He was elected in 1955 to represent the constituents of Ward 5 in Sydney, NS. He served until 1972, leaving behind a legacy of community involvement and commitment to human rights. In his honor the City of Sydney (now the Cape Breton Regional Municipality) had established the Thomas Miller Human Rights Award. This award is presented annually to an individual dedicated to helping promote human rights.

Winston Ruck (1923-1992)

In 1940, Winston Ruck started his first shift at the Sydney Steel Plant. He was elected to the executive of the Steelworker’s Union, local 1064, in 1964 and for another term in 1967. In 1970, he was the first Black to become President of local 1064 of the Steelworker’s Union and later he became Area 5 representative of the United Steelworkers of America. After he retired from the Steel Plant, Winston was asked to assist the Black United Front, an organization that was formed to advocate for the rights of African Nova Scotians. He took the challenge and spent several years guiding Black United Front and their affairs. Mr. Ruck worked tirelessly for the betterment of Black Nova Scotians and in 1990 Winston was awarded the Thomas Miller Human Rights Award.

Jonathan Skeete- (1952 –1987)

He was the first indigenous African Nova Scotian from Cape Breton Island to be recruited to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. He generously gave his time to the youth of his community, Whitney Pier. He provided guidance and was an exemplary role model. In memory of the contributions he made to the community, the United Mission Youth Centre holds the Jonathan Skeete Memorial fun Run each August a memorial baseball game in his and Carl “Campy” Crawford’s memory. The Black Cultural Centre of Nova Scotia and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police sponsored an event called Operation Show and Tell honoring the late Jonathan Skeete and saluting all African Nova Scotians.

Clotilda Yakimchuk- In 1954, she graduated from the Dartmouth Nova Scotia Hospital School of Nursing. She was the first person of African descent to serve in the capacity of the president of the Nurses Association of Nova Scotia. She also served as Vice Chair of the Eastern Regional Health Board. Clotilda retired from the Cape Breton Regional Hospital as the Director of Education Services in 1994, but continues to volunteer her time on many boards and committees.



Calvin Ruck
Senator, community activist and author of the book, "No 2 Construction Battalion. He was raised in the community of Whitney Pier.


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