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André Anderson is making a difference

His fundraiser, BOLD, closes the gap between potential and opportunity for Black Nova Scotians.

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BOLD, a fundraiser started by André Anderson, has raised almost $19,000 for Black Nova Scotians since June 2. - JULIAN ABRAHAM
  • Julian Abraham
  • BOLD, a fundraiser started by André Anderson, has raised almost $19,000 for Black Nova Scotians since June 2.

André Anderson has a favourite spot in town: a specific bench at Fort Needham Memorial Park in the north end. It has the perfect amount of shade and sun. From it, you can see the bell towers, the harbour and people enjoying the park. It's where he does a lot of thinking, where he comes up with a lot of ideas—and where he decides to take action.

The 25-year-old is finishing his economics degree at Saint Mary’s University. He’s writing and directing a few short films and has a couple books on the go. Right now though, he’s mainly raising tens of thousands of dollars for Black Nova Scotians.

Anderson is an activist, but not a huge fan of the word: “I’m just someone who cares, you know?” (You can tell he’s thought about this one before.) “I would want to go to a rally and honour someone who’s passed away. I’d love to go to a panel and learn how to engage with a community so I can better treat them and engage with them. Until we find a word that’s closer to that, 'activist' is the best way to describe myself,” he says.

He got into it a mere nine months ago and says it’s been like a rebirth. “There were so many parts of myself I was neglecting before,” he says “in these circles, I can introduce myself and be taken at face value, not with prejudice or stereotype.”

Anderson has a magnetic personality. He has a clever sense of humour and a good-natured way about him. He has a big group of friends, which is where the link to the fundraiser he started got most of its early shares.

The fundraiser is called Building Black Opportunities and Leadership Development, or BOLD for short. Anderson best describes it as a way to bridge the gap between potential and opportunity for Black Nova Scotians.

When the fundraiser was only at a couple of thousand dollars, Anderson was planning to use the money for scholarships. But now? “I hate to use the jargon,” Anderson says with a laugh, “but we’ve had to scale our initiatives.”

No matter how big it gets, Anderson says there will be an emphasis on mentorship with the money raised. He’s reached out to leaders and activists in other cities around the world, like Detroit, for inspiration on this. “We need to build up young people. The next generation. I know I’m young, but there’s people younger than me that need mentorship,” he says.

Anderson writes in the fundraiser’s description that it’s an example that Black Lives Matter today, tomorrow and the days after.

As of now, the fund is almost at $19,000 and it only started on June 2.  It serves as a way for “white people who think what can I do? I want to do something but don’t know what to do” to make effective and positive change within the community, says Anderson.

With momentum behind the Black Lives Matter movement still strong—recently the New York Times reported that the movement may be the largest in US history—Anderson can’t know how big his initiative could get. “I don’t even want to say what we have in mind right now–because again, we might have to think bigger.”

With a purer-than-expected laugh, Anderson describes another part of Needham Park he likes a lot: The swing set. “I’m a big swinger,” he says. “On the swings, you have to push back a bit before you can gain momentum and make progress."

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