A chorus of drummers and a parade of flags representing 29 countries opened the 7th International African Diaspora Heritage Trail Conference today, Sept. 23, at the World Trade and Convention Centre in Halifax. More than 300 presenters and delegates from North America, Europe, Africa and the Caribbean have gathered for the conference, which brings together people interested in preserving, promoting and protecting African heritage and culture throughout the world. “For hundreds of years, people of African descent have played a vital role in the culture, heritage, and economic well-being of Nova Scotia,” said Premier Darrell Dexter. “This weekend we look forward to sharing Nova Scotia’s story. We believe great things will come out of this conference that will have a lasting impact far into our future.” Nova Scotia is the first conference host in continental North America. It has previously been held in the Bahamas, Tanzania, and four times in Bermuda. Visitors are being immersed in African Nova Scotian history. The program includes visits to the Black Cultural Centre and the grand opening of the Africville Seaview Church Museum on Sunday, Sept. 25. Today’s opening ceremony featured the premiere of a short film by Sylvia Hamilton called, We Are One, created especially for the conference. “Nova Scotia has been in many ways a small but mighty hub of the African Diaspora,” said Percy Paris, Minister of African Nova Scotian Affairs. “Our roots run deep, and our culture deserves to be shared with the world. It is our hope that delegates from around the world will leave this weekend with a deeper sense of our province’s rich African heritage and important role in the Diaspora.” The African Diaspora Heritage Trail is an international tourism initiative started by the Bermuda Department of Tourism in 2002. It is designed to promote socially conscious travel, educate visitors on African culture, and create economic benefits in communities of African descent. “We are pleased to partner with Nova Scotia for the 2011 annual conference,” said Maxine Esdaille, chair of the African Diaspora Heritage Trail Bermuda Foundation. “The conference creates a unique and inspiring learning environment for all committed to developing African Diaspora heritage destinations.” Conference sessions are also being held Saturday, Sept. 24. An International African Bazaar coinciding with the conference is open to the public at Sackville Landing on the Halifax waterfront. It runs until Sunday at 5 p.m.