Tuesday, October 06, 2020

Slavery in Canada - who knew?

It's funny how these things happen. Just yesterday, my daughter rang me and griped,  with some outrage, about how it was possible that she could obtain a Canadian high school education and still not know that Canada, like so many other countries, also indulged in slavery back in the day.

I thought about quibbling that, well, actually, it was just part of Britain in those days, and yes, Britain was involved in the slave trade for centuries, but was at least one of the first major countries to abolish it. But my daughter has very decided views, and would have been equally outraged by my own quibbling.

And then, in today's Globe and Mail, I come across an article about a woman who is in the process of establishing a research institute dedicated to the study of Canadian slavery, partly because so few people seem to be aware that Canada was ever involved in it.

So, yes, slavery in Canada ended with the British Act of 1833, long before Canada was Canada. But, yes also, Canadians should probably be much more aware of what happened in their own backyard in those dark days. As the mixed legacy of dead white guys like James McGill and Henry Dundas are debated to death in recent months, a bit of context would be welcome.

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