Afro-Canadian(Black Canadian, African-Canadian) are citizens and residence of Canada. They make up 2% of the population. They are the third largest minority group in Canada. Black Canadians come from a diversity of backgrounds--South America, Caribbean, Africa, and Europe. The majority have Caribbean roots. They include Jamaicans, Nigerians, Haitians, Afro-Latinos,  etc. It is estimated by 2017, the black population will be 948,000 -1,177,000.



The first recorded black slave, transported from Africa to recorded death in Canada, was slave Olivier Le Jeune in what was New France. France never recognized slavery. Both indians(panis) and blacks were used as slaves. Most slaves, 52.3%, inhabited Montreal. Quebec and Trois-Rivieres were other regions with major slave population. 77.2% lived in Towns. Only 22.8% were field hands. Most were servants. Average life expectancy was 25.2.

Although, never officially declared, the Code Noir of the Antilles governed slave life. Slaves were expensive commodities and were handed treatment of that of freedmen. The average black slave brought in 900 livre. In 1781, when a slave attacked his master, he was not executed but imprisoned. In 1734, Marie-Joseph Angelique was accused of setting her master's house on fire which caused the burning of half of Montreal. She was tortured and hanged.

The citizenry sometimes aided runaway slaves. The latter caused the government to issue an ordonnance in 1734, stating that the public should not employ runnaway slaves and captains should not carry them out of the territories without severe penalty. During the period of 1769-1794, numerous advertisement existed for the return of runaway slaves in the Quebec Gazette.

Slavery was abolished in Nova Scotia in 1787 and 1793 in Ontario(Upper Canada). In 1834, slavery was abolished in all British territories.

American Revolution and War of 1812

During the American Revolution(1775-1783), the British promised freedom to slaves who fought for Britain. After the war, numerous blacks who fought with the British fled to Canada as free-persons. Some Loyalist brought their slaves with them in Nova Scotia. Facing discrimination, segregation, and slavery most blacks left on 14 ships, founding the colony of Freetown in Sierra Leone. 

In the War of 1812, the British took back slaves seeking refuge to Halifax, Nova Scotia. Others settled in southwestern Ontario.

Underground Railroad

During the 1850s, the Underground Railroad brought thousand of ex-slaves to Canada, with Detroit being a major transit point with locals like Chatham and Sarnia in Ontario being a final destination. Although free in Canada, many blacks faced segregated lives and discrimination. 

They went to segregated schools. In 1850, Canada West past the Common Schools Act, which segregated the school system. Nova Scotia past a similiar act later.  Blacks went to sub-par schools that were under-funded.

Because of segregation and other grievances, after the Civil War in the U.S., Canada experience a decrease in her black population, from 60,000 to 18,000, in a thirty year period. 

Western Prairie

During the 1890s, the Canadian government pushed for settlement westward, promising inexpensive land settled by the Cree Indians. It wanted to encourage farming and agriculture in its western territories. Numerous blacks from the US immigrated to the prairie of Western Canada between 1905 and 1909, staying at border towns in provinces like Manitoba and Saskatchewan. A few settled in Alberta, inhabiting booming cities like Edmonton and as farmers and cowboys in rural areas. 

Vancouver Island

In 1858, the British created the Vancouver Island district. To prevent the U.S. government from claiming the territory, governor Douglas encouraged black immigration from California on condition most would defend the territory. Not well treated in California with special discriminatory resident taxes, about 400 hundred black families sailed to Canada. Most settled in Victoria. Prominent black of the territory was John Sullivan Deas,  a businessman, and Mifflin Gibbs, the first black Canadian politician, elected to the Victoria City Council. 

World War I & II

During World War I, blacks signed up to fight for Canada. Many were initially rejected. Whites officers did not want to be serving with blacks in their units. After much protest from black Canadian leaders, a few blacks were allowed to join all white regiments. In Nova Scotia the No. 2 Construction was formed. It did not see combat but was engaged in construction of ditches and trenches in the battlefront.

Come World War II, many blacks served in mixed regiments and refused to serve in construction regiments. Most blacks were motivated to serve in hopes of being accepted in Canadian society. 

Current Status

During the 1950s and 1960s a wave of immigration from the Caribbean occured.

Works Cited

Branswell, Brenda. Black History Month:Canada had Slaves Too. 12-Jan-2012. retrieved 07-Feb-2012

Dearing, Stephanie. Nova Scotia Apologizes, Pardons Civil Rights Heroine. Digital Journal. 15-Apr-2010. retrieved 07-Feb-2012

Hiebert, Daniel J., and Reed, Maureen G. Canada. Microsoft® Encarta® 2006 [DVD]. Redmond, WA: Microsoft Corporation, 2005. 

Winks, Robin W.(1997). Blacks in Canada: a history. McGill-Queen's Press. ISBN 0773516328, 9780773516328

Sadlier, Rosemary, Qijun, Wang(2010). The Kids Book of Black Canadian History. Kids Can Press Ltd. ISBN 1554535875, 9781554535873

Renaldo Alyson. Black Canadian Like Me. The Root. 25-Apr-2011. retrieved 7-Feb-2012.

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