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The Value Project documentary covers history of Whitney Pier

Guideon Lucas, right, an elder from Whitney Pier, takes part in an African Heritage Month proclamation ceremony at the Cape Breton Regional Municipality City Hall in this photo which was used in The Value Project documentary done by two youth workers at the Boys and Girls Club of Cape Breton. CONTRIBUTED
Guideon Lucas, right, an elder from Whitney Pier, takes part in an African Heritage Month proclamation ceremony at the Cape Breton Regional Municipality City Hall in this photo which was used in The Value Project documentary done by two youth workers at the Boys and Girls Club of Cape Breton. CONTRIBUTED
SYDNEY, N.S. —

The Value Project documentary has given Sheraton Simmons more than some experience in visual storytelling

It's given her a chance to make something that helps preserve the history and heritage of Whitney Pier, the community she loves. 

"It really makes me feel like I accomplished something for the community that we can have for a really long time," said the 19-year-old. "I'm excited for people to see the end result." 

The Value Project features three short documentaries from African Nova Scotia youth about their communities. Three Boys and Girls Club branches, Cape Breton (Whitney Pier), Preston and Greater Halifax have partnered for The Value Project which premieres Wednesday on YouTube.

"Black Lives Matter. We're all talking about this conversation and I think this is a great conversation to be having," said Chester Borden, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of Cape Breton. 

Borden asked Simmons and Laura Rogers to be project co-ordinator and with the guidance of club program coordinator Rayanne Rogers, they became co-directors, researching and conducting all interviews for their 15-minute documentary about the history of Whitney Pier and youth clubs in the community.

"When I was first asked to do it, at first I was a little nervous," Simmons said. "But at the end, I really enjoyed it ... It really opens your eyes up to so much more." 


The Value Project
Live screening: Wednesday
Time: 7:15 p.m. 
Where: YouTube, Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Halifax


An intergenerational film, Simmons and Rogers interview their peers, their parents' peers and their grandparents' peers to learn about the history of Blacks in the Whitney Pier as well as the multi-cultural heritage that makes the community unique. That history includes a dark time when people were segregated by race or religion.

"The project was about African Nova Scotia and I had two women (affiliated with the club) who should learn more about their history," said Borden, who grew up when Black people living in Whitney Pier could only live on the first three streets when driving in from Sydney. 

"(The video they made) is an excellent video. But I say it's the tip of the iceberg when you hear the content and when you talk to (Simmons and Richards) about what they learned."

They also learned about the United Mission Youth Club, which organized a baseball team along with running regular activities. 

Shot and edited by Jason LeFrense of JLF Productions in Sydney Mines, Simmons said she "loved learning about the history of the elders ... and what times were like back then."

"Like, how after school, they used to get together, eat supper, rush to change their clothes and then play games in the middle of the street, like baseball and hockey," said the Sydney Academy graduate. 

"Now, you wouldn't see as many kids on the street playing ... Now there's the internet, there's video gaming."

Simmons said she took the plunge to get involved in The Value Project because she wants to show other youth in her community you can do anything you want. 

"I've had people try to knock me down from where I am going, career-wise. But me, I have the mindset that if I want something, I can get it if I put my mind to it," said Simmons, who plans to attend the nursing program at Nova Scotia Community College next year. 

"I want youth to have the same mindset ... I want to show them you can do it, to put pride in our youth and show them if you put your mind to it you can go where you want to."

The Value Project premiere's live broadcast on YouTube will allow people to ask questions to youth who participated and club representations. It starts at 7:15 p.m. on the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Halifax YouTube page.

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