Funny Mom Humor inspiration positive words
By Natasha Henry
The highly anticipated soon-to-be-released film, 12 Years a Slave, has garnered lots of attention following its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. The film provides a shocking but realistic depiction of American slavery. It is based on the life of Solomon Northrup, a free man, who was kidnapped from his hometown in New York and sold south into slavery. Northup is able to regain his freedom after Canadian Samuel Bass, a carpenter from Prescott, Upper Canada, writes several letters to authorities in New York on his behalf. No doubt, Canadians are proud of the usual portrayal of us as crusaders against American slavery and wear the badge of “Canadians as abolitionists” with honour. Canadians readily embrace the notion of Canada as a haven for American freedom-seekers, who were escaping the same conditions that Solomon Northup endured. Once he was freed, Northrup himself helped fugitives flee to Canada, the “Promised Land.”
But what about Canadian slavery?
African slavery existed in the colonies of New France and British North America for over 200 years, yet there remains a profound silence in classrooms and teaching resources about Canada’s involvement in the African slave trade. According to available historical documents, least 4,000 Africans were held in bondage for two centuries in the early colonial settlements of New France (Quebec), New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and Upper Canada (Ontario). Who were these men, women, and children who were deemed property? What were their personal experiences? Why was slavery legally and socially sanctioned for over 200 years?
Black slaves were used as a source of free labour to meet the demand of developing a new colony. They worked in towns and cities not only as domestic servants, but also as fur traders, miners, fishermen, wharf workers, and sailors. African slaves also worked in skilled jobs as blacksmiths, carpenters, wheelwrights, and coopers. They cleared and farmed land, and toiled in hotels, taverns and other businesses. Their coerced labour brought economic benefits to this country and helped to meet the needs of their local communities. Canada is further connected to the Transatlantic Slave Trade through the trading of products like timber and salted cod with slaveholding Caribbean colonies for slave produced goods such as rum, molasses, tobacco, and sugar.
Enslaved Africans were bought and sold through newspapers and at public auctions. Slaves were bequeathed in wills, passed down to family members along with furniture and farm animals. They were held by government officials, clergy, merchants, Natives, and United Empire Loyalists. Like their American counterparts, Canadian slaves faced inhumane treatment and were subject to whippings, jail sentences, and hangings at the gallows. To resist their conditions, many slaves fled to the free territories of the northern US in pursuit of their liberty.
I never learned about this in school. Not even one anecdote. Though I always had suspicions that Canada practiced slavery.
History you were never taught in public school………. smh
Iconic image of Princess Diana on a yacht in Portofino, Italy, in August 1997.