A poet, performer, scholar, historian, and social and cultural commentator, Dr. Afua Cooper’s expertise in and contributions to the arts, history, and education were recognized when she was presented in 2015 with the Nova Scotia Human Rights Award from the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission.
A celebrated poet, Afua was recently installed as Halifax’s (Nova Scotia, Canada) 7th Poet Laureate. She is the author of five books of poetry, including the critically acclaimed Copper Woman and Other Poems. She has also recorded two poetry CDs. Her poetry has a strong sense of memory, history, place, and spirituality. Further, Afua has published two historical novels, which have garnered Canadian and American awards. Her work in the creative arts has been recognized with the Premier of Ontario Award for Excellence in the Arts, a Governor General’s Award nomination, and internationally with the Beacon of Freedom Award (recently awarded for her book My Name is Phillis Wheatley). A founder of the Canadian Dub poetry movement, Afua Cooper was instrumental in organizing between 2004 and 2009, three international dub poetry festivals.
Afua holds a Ph.D. in Black Canadian Studies and the African Diaspora from the University of Toronto. Her expertise includes African Canadian culture, Black women’s history, gender, slavery, and abolition. She has conducted research on African-descended people and their culture across Canada, and internationally. Her co-authored publication We’re Rooted Here and they Can’t Pull Us Up: Essays in African Canadian Women’s History won the Joseph Brant prize for the best history book. Her ground-breaking book on Canadian slavery, The Hanging of Angelique: The Untold Story of Slavery in Canada and the Burning of Old Montreal was nominated for the Governor General’s award. Recently, CBC named Angelique one of Canada’s top 100 books. Afua has curated and worked on five exhibits including, The Underground Railroad, Next Stop Freedom, Enslaved Africans in Upper Canada, and The Transatlantic Slave Trade.
In recognizing the tremendous multi-discipline contributions Afua Cooper has made to Canadian society and life, and internationally, Essence Magazine named her as one of the twenty-five women who are shaping the world.
As a result of her scholarship and praxis, she was appointed in 2011 as James Robinson Johnston Chair in Black Canadian Studies at Dalhousie University, Halifax. Dr. Cooper is also the chair and founder of the Black Canadian Studies Association, and the Dalhousie Black Faculty and Staff Caucus.