The Story of The Slaves

After much deliberation, I rested my efforts on this article, or should I say timeline, shared by Nicole about the Canadian history and involvement with black slaves in North America. I have a lot of interest in Black rights around the world and so this resource caught my eye.

Whilst reading this extensive timeline, I developed a much greater understanding of some of the key events that occurred both within Canada and events that effected Canada surrounding black slavery during the 1815-1914 time period. I also gained knowledge of some new parts and elements of Canada’s black slave story that I found very interesting.

One element that really stood out to me, was the efforts of the Toronto Globe newspaper and its involvement with the slavery issue within its pages. Some of these notes directly “attacked” the American senator, as stated in the timeline:

” In the Toronto Globe, editor George Brown, one of Canada’s leading abolitionists, regularly commented on the disadvantaged condition of Blacks in North America. From its inception in 1844, the Globe gave anti-slavery forces a public forum, attacking United States senator Henry Clay, the Fugitive Slave Act, separate schools, and other issues.  “

It was interesting to find out, while reading this timeline, that Canada did in fact allow slaves legally until the year 1834, at which point a law was activated to abolish slaves within Canada once and for all. However, it was reassuring to me that Canada only held about 50 active slaves by that time. This means that Canada took early and proactive efforts to end black slavery without governmental forces. It is also so amazing to me that Canada was, and even still is, very far ahead of the United States in this area of rights.

Much of the timeline discussed how Canada was involved in freeing slaves of The United States, and how Canadians were taking part in actions towards freedom for black slaves in The United States, such as the Underground Railroad. Many mentions in the timeline were of refugee black slaves from America who immediately took hold of their own justice and fighting for those whom they had left behind once they arrived in Canada. Some of these included Henry Bibb, Josiah Henson, Mary Ann Shadd, J.T. Fisher, and more.

However, even though Canada is ahead of The States in certain aspects, as discussed in recent social studies classes, there are many other problems facing Canada the and now that are reasonably similar to those past of America. One of these may be the issue of rights and respect towards the Aboriginal peoples of Canada.

Another aspect of the article I found quite intriguing was British Columbia’s involvement in the black slave immigrations to Canada. This timeline gives the date of April 26th, 1858, as the first time wherein black slaves arrived in refuge in British Columbia.

” On the invitation of James Douglas, the governor of British Columbia, the first ship carrying Black Californians landed in Victoria on 26 April 1858. By summer’s end, more than 800 Black settlers had arrived. “

This is interesting as at this point in history, British Columbia was not officially part of Canada, further, Canada as a country had not yet been formed. Because of this I found it intriguing that B.C. was still involved as a refuge for American Black Slaves.

The largest and most impactful event mentioned in this timeline is the creation of the Fugitive Slave Act that occurred within the United States in 1850, Ultimately, this act allowed American slave-owners to chase, catch, and chastise any runaway slaves. Furthermore, I found it inspiring almost how this additionally impacted Canadian peoples on such a high level not necessarily physically, but emotionally. The timeline writes:

” The passage of the Fugitive Slave Act in the United States led to the formation of a larger and more durable antislavery society in Canada. “

This support and movement was largely due to the new influx of black former slaves now living in Canada. This shows the cultural impact on Canada during this time and how the American slave industry, per say, contributed to Canada’s identity as a country.

This is how this timeline relates to some of the Prescribed Learning Outcomes for Social Studies Grade Ten. This resource abundantly focuses on the outcomes discussed in section B. Some of the main outcomes this timeline addresses include:

Identity, Society, And Culture: Canada From 1815 to 1914

  • B1: Analyse Canadian society from 1815 to 1914 in terms of gender roles, ethnicity, daily life, and the arts
  • B3: Evaluate the influence of immigration on Canadian society from 1815 to 1914
  • B4: Describe the factors that contributed to a changing national identity from 1815 to 1914

I hope to expand on my knowledge of this area and issue in the coming Social Studies explorations. Check out this useful timeline yourself here and comment what you think!

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