Blacks in Canada were explorers and slaves, pioneers and freedom fighters. They were subjected to the indignities and horrors of slavery, as well as the burden of racism. But rising above it all, they fought for themselves and they fought for Canada. They expanded our cultural diversity and helped to grow the economic base. In short, Black people have been a part of making Canada what it is – and Canadians who we are today.
Work has been done in recent years to remember some of the lost or buried aspects of Black history in Canada, including this exhibit. Perhaps an explanation for the disappearance of some parts of this history is that it is painful to remember, and easier to deny. But another reason, that perhaps reinforces these reasons, may stem from the writing style of the nineteenth century Romantic era. The Romantic approach to flowery writing about heroes and villains also included the author in the narrative. And it would have been challenging to be honestly self-critical and introspective in accounts of this elaborate and over-stated style. Running as it did over a period of a century, it may be that, through this long period, multiple generations were able to bury the painful memories of slavery and dwell instead on the glorious accounts of the Underground Railroad. For more information about this topic, click on the image of Dr. Best, scroll to the bottom of the page about her, and click on the document beside her picture.
Twentieth century Black Nova Scotia journalist and author, Dr. Carrie Best, dedicated her autobiography, That Lonesome Road, to her mother saying: “Society Said: You are an inferior being, born to be a hewer of wood and a drawer of water because you are Black.... My Mother Said: You are a person, separate and apart from all other persons on earth. The pathway to your destiny is hidden...you alone must find it. ...And then she said... Take the first turn right, and go straight ahead...”