East Preston native, Tyson Tolliver, is a self-starter with a passionate interest in preserving and promoting African Canadian culture. About nine years ago, he began working on a project to address questions he had about African Nova Scotian (ANS) culture. He found there wasn’t information about various landmarks, historical points of interest, and profiles and that what was available was sparse.
“Although I knew pockets of information,” says Tolliver. “I soon realized that there was no central hub where people could readily access information.”
Adding to his frustration was the fact that information available on Google maps and Wikipedia often lacked photo evidence or was altogether inaccurate. This is when Tolliver decided to take matters into his own hands. Armed with a camera and the will to gain answers, he decided to create a directory. However, with so little information available and so much of the culture to document, he says he didn’t fully anticipate how difficult it would be.
His directory project took a short hiatus when his daughter was born but after taking time off for paternity leave, he began again to gather information about ANS culture in his spare time. He often took his daughter with him on road trips to take photos of points of interest and started pulling the pieces together.
He continued researching for a few years, personally funding the travel to capture and document information for the resource guide. He was connected to the BBI while visiting the Africville Museum and he says that’s when things began to take shape.
Through BBI’s connections and support, Tolliver enrolled in and completed Volta Academy, an 11-week program that helps participants test and validate their ideas, outline a minimum viable product (MVP) and grow a scalable startup.
“The connection [to Volta Academy] was instrumental in helping me to get where I am today,” says Tolliver.
Tolliver was able to launch the African Nova Scotian Directory (ANSD), complete with the ANSD App, which is now available in the Apple APP and Google Play stores. Visitors can contribute content to the directory as well as explore various landmarks, information, and interests related to ANS culture.
Tolliver hopes that, through community action, the directory can become “a source for information and direction and also a platform for exposing businesses, immigrants and visitors to the beauty of African Nova Scotian and African Canadian culture.” Along with improving the user experience through the app, Tolliver says he plans to host a formal launch to increase the directory’s exposure and help it become a vital resource for African Nova Scotian communities.
Tolliver says he is looking forward to more daddy-daughter trips and more amazing pictures to take. He is confident that, with connections such as those facilitated by the BBI, he can help put African Nova Scotian and African Canadian culture, literally, all over the map.