Community Volunteer / Historian / Administrator, Preston Area Learning Skills Society, North Preston, NS. Born: North Preston, NS.
Allister Johnson has been active in his community as an educator, volunteer and historian for many years. He is the Administrator for the Preston Area Learning Skills Society, an adult education organization and has spent seven years as Coordinator of the Cultural and Academic Enrichment Tutoring Program in North Preston. He is a Deacon and Treasurer at Saint Thomas United Baptist Church in North Preston and a member of Urban Rural Mission Canada, and is a former Board Member of the Watershed Association Development Enterprises (WADE) Limited where he served as chair from 1997 to 2001. Allister led that organization in developing a successful community economic development approach and an asset-mapping project cataloguing the labour market and infrastructure assets of the Preston Area.
Allister is also a founding member of the North Preston Community Education Council, which succeeded in transforming a local elementary school into an Afrocentric school (the only predominantly Black populated school in Nova Scotia); developed and participated in student excursions across Nova Scotia, to the United States, Jamaica and The Gambia; was President of the North Preston Community Development Association from 1989 to 1998 and initiated socio-economic development planning strategies for the community. During his mandate, he also addressed issues of race relations, municipal landfill siting and community/police relations.
In 1996, he developed and implemented the Canadian Census Communications Strategy targeted at Nova Scotia’s Black population. This strategy was expanded in the 2001 Census to include the ethnically diverse population of the entire Atlantic Region.
Honours: Awards of Excellence, WADE, Halifax Regional Municipality and Province of Nova Scotia (2004)
Works: Contributing author to A Journey to the Past, Condensed Histories of Dartmouth, Preston, Cole Harbour & Eastern Passage (2009); co-authored a chapter in the WADE book, We Can’t Walk Alone (2000); co-authored, The Genealogy of William and Charlotte Cain (1999).
Favourite books: The African Presence in the Americas, They Came Before Columbus by Ivan Van Sertima. This book was the beginning of my discovery of the truth of my African ancestry. Great African Thinkers by Cheikh-Anta Diop, edited by Ivan Van Sertima. This book validates the truth of my ancient African ancestry. McKerrow, A Brief History of Blacks in Nova Scotia (1783-1895) by Peter E. McKerrow (1895); edited by Frank Stanley Jr., 1976. This is the first history of African Nova Scotians written by an African Nova Scotian.
Favourite quotes: “Hindsight, insight and foresight.” & “Knowledge is useless less it be passed on.” – Allister Johnson. I coined these quotes for my public speaking engagements, presentations and mentoring. I believe that becoming well versed in history (hindsight), inspires a person to take a keen interest in current affairs (insight). People who aquire vast knowledge in these to areas are likely to become visionaries and great planners (foresight). And, iIf one acquires knowledge and keeps it to him/herself, then there is no benefit from that knowledge. That would be like acquiring wealth and keeping it permanently under a mattress.
Given the chance, what would you love to do that you have not done yet? I would love to have the time and funds to research write and publish the History of North Preston.
Who inspires you? I am truly inspired by Jesus. He is so effective in the most humble ways. Everything I do I try to do it in a way I think He would do it.
Why do you do what you do? I love people. I believe everyone should contribute freely towards the betterment of all.