Black people have lived in Canada since the beginnings of transatlantic settlement. A few came as explorers, more came as slaves in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, still more as former American slaves fleeing to Canada between 1783 and 1865, and since then as free immigrants from the United States, the West Indies, and Africa. Until the 1980s very few came directly from their ancestral continent, yet the label African Canadian is being used increasingly to include all Canadians of African descent, wherever they were born. In the 1996 census, African Canadians composed...
Black people have lived in Canada since the beginnings of transatlantic settlement. A few came as explorers, more came as slaves in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, still more as former American slaves fleeing to Canada between 1783 and 1865, and since then as free immigrants from the United States, the West Indies, and Africa. Until the 1980s very few came directly from their ancestral continent, yet the label African Canadian is being used increasingly to include all Canadians of African descent, wherever they were born. In the 1996 census, African Canadians composed about 2 percent of the total Canadian population.Slavery in CanadaAfricans participated in many of the earliest voyages to the territory now known as Canada. A legend persists that one of Jacques Cartier's crew members came originally from Africa, though the first name on record is that of Mathieu da Costa, who served the governor of Acadia in 1608 as an interpreter to the Micmac Nation. The first slave transported directly from Africa to Canada was a child brought to Quebec in 1628 by the English invader David Kirke, and sold to a local resident on Kirke's departure in 1629. The child was baptized in May 1633 as Olivier Le Jeune, and died in 1654 while still a young man. Between 1628 and the British Conquest in 1759, 1132 slaves of African origin were brought to New France. Governor Denonville sought permission to establish a trade in African slaves in 1688, but royal permission was denied and so there was never any direct importation from Africa. Most of the Africans came from the British colonies in North America or from the French West Indies. About 60 percent of the imported slaves were male and 40 percent female, and almost all of them were located in urban centers as domestic servants. Usually they were owned singly or in very small numbers, and most served the same family throughout their lives.Black slaves lived in the British regions of Canada in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries—104 were listed in a 1767 census of Nova Scotia—but their numbers were small until the Loyalist influx after 1783. As white Loyalists fled the new American Republic, they took with them about 2,000 black slaves: 1,200 to the Maritimes (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island), 300 to Lower Canada (Quebec), and 500 to Upper Canada (Ontario). As in New France, Loyalist slaves were held in small numbers and were employed as domestic servants, farm hands, and skilled artisans. The system of gang labor, and its consequent institutions of control and brutality, did not develop in Canada. Because they did not appear to pose a threat to their masters, slaves were permitted to learn to read and write, Christian conversion was encouraged, and their marriages were recognized by law. In 1793 Upper Canada became the first territory in the British Empire to legislate the gradual abolition of slavery. By 1800 the other provinces of British North America had effectively limited slavery through court decisions requiring the strictest proof of ownership, which was rarely available. Slavery remained legal, however, until the British Parliament emancipated slaves throughout the empire effective August 1, 1834.Black Settlement in CanadaNumerically and historically more significant than the Loyalist-owned slaves were about 3,500 free black Loyalists who migrated to Canada after the American Revolution (1775–1783). These were American-owned slaves who were promised freedom and equality by the British in exchange for their loyalty to the crown. The British motive was to acquire the military and labor contribution of the runaway slaves, and to deprive the American colonists of a valuable asset. But the terms of the proclamations inviting them to join the British led the blacks themselves to believe that the British were genuinely opposed to slavery, and that a Loyalist victory would result in freedom for all slaves in the American colonies. This impression was reinforced by the fact that the earliest black Loyalists were sent into battle carrying a banner announcing “Liberty to Slaves.” Their participation can therefore legitimately be understood as a war for independence.The American victory required the evacuation of those who had remained loyal to Britain, and among them were about 3,500 of the black Loyalists who settled chiefly in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. They were located by government officials in half a dozen segregated communities on the outskirts of larger white towns. The largest was at Birchtown, near Shelburne, Nova Scotia. A census held in 1784 showed 649 men, 485 women, and 387 children living there, a total of 1,521, making it the largest community of free black people anywhere in North America at the time. Despite the promise of equality, the black Loyalists did not in general receive grants of land sufficient to provide for themselves on their own farms. Disappointed, almost 1,200 free blacks, or about a third of the total population, migrated to the British colony of Sierra Leone in 1792, where they founded the capital city of Freetown. Their descendants still identify themselves as Nova Scotian more than two centuries later.In 1796 a band of almost 600 Jamaican maroons was transported to Nova Scotia. These were runaway slaves who had established independent communities in the interior of Jamaica and who posed a threat to neighboring slave plantations. After a military operation in 1795–1796, the Jamaican legislature exiled the captive maroons to Halifax. Although they were making a contribution by laboring on fortifications during the war with France, the British government decided in 1800 to ship the maroons to Sierra Leone. Their arrival in Freetown coincided with a rebellion of the black Loyalists against their British governors. By siding with the colonial authorities, the maroons ensured the failure of the rebellion.The reputation acquired by the British as champions of black freedom and equality encouraged a renewed flight from American owners during the War of 1812. In April 1814, recognizing a fait accompli, the British commander issued a proclamation offering to send runaway American slaves as “free settlers” to British colonies. By the end of the war, about 2,000 black refugees had been settled in the Maritimes, more than 1,500 in Nova Scotia, and the rest in New Brunswick. Like the black Loyalists, they were located in segregated settlements, mostly in the neighborhood of Halifax, and were given small land grants of about ten acres per family.The black Loyalists, maroons, and black refugees had initially freed themselves, but they were brought as groups into Canada under government auspices and located in deliberately separated settlements. A small number of individual runaway American slaves also migrated to Canada, beginning in the 1790s. Most of them headed for Ontario, where the 1793 Act guaranteed the freedom of any former slave entering the province. That same year Congress passed the first Fugitive Slave Law, making a flight to British territory more attractive. By 1830, when the term Underground Railroad was coined, hundreds of African American slaves and freedpeople were crossing the border each year. Known collectively as the “black fugitives,” they too tended to create voluntary settlements or concentrated urban districts for self-defense against American slave catchers, for mutual economic assistance, and for support in the face of white Canadian prejudice. Most of the fugitive locations were near the American border, around Windsor, Chatham, London, Saint Catharine's, and Hamilton. Toronto had a growing black population, and there were smaller communities or families living in many parts of the province. Numbers increased, particularly after the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 made a move across the border imperative for many American fugitives. By the time of the American Civil War (1861–1865) it is estimated that about 30,000 fugitives had found their way to Canada. This included more than 800 free African Americans who migrated from California to Vancouver Island in 1858, seeking to escape the racial discrimination that was imposed by law in their home state.Black Immigration Since 1865With the end of American slavery, many thousands of African Canadians returned to the United States, but because of American legal inequalities, small groups of African Americans continued to migrate into Canada. The most significant movement came from Oklahoma between 1909 and 1911, when about 1,500 black farmers settled in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and especially Alberta, creating several distinct black communities across the Canadian prairies. The Oklahoma example prompted other African Americans to migrate as well, particularly western farmers but including some from Chicago, Illinois and other cities.The black population in Canada did not increase substantially, however, until the 1960s, when immigration restrictions based on color and origin were removed. As a result, large numbers of qualified West Indians and Africans began to enter Canada. Between 1960 and 1995 there were about 300,000 immigrants from the West Indies and more than 150,000 from Africa, though since Canadian immigration statistics only register country of origin it is not possible to distinguish black immigrants from those of Arab, Asian, or European descent. According to the 1996 census, more than half of all African Canadians live in Toronto, and there are large concentrations in Montreal, Ottawa, and several other Canadian cities. This major influx has greatly outnumbered the original black population in every Canadian region except the Maritimes.Economic LifeAs in other parts of the Americas, slavery had a lasting impact on African Canadian economic life, both as a direct legacy upon the descendants of slaves and, even more significantly, as a mentality produced in the dominant society. Accustomed to regard all blacks as slaves, colonial authorities imposed numerous obstacles on the black Loyalists and refugees as they tried to establish themselves as free settlers in the Maritimes. They did not receive the extent of land originally promised, and the small farms they were granted could not permit self-sufficiency through agriculture.As a result, the black pioneers were forced to seek employment as laborers in neighboring white towns, where their desperate condition made them vulnerable to exploitation and discrimination in employment and wages. In 1784 Canada's first race riot occurred in Shelburne, Nova Scotia, when white laborers attacked blacks, tore down their houses, and drove them out of town, on the grounds that by accepting lower wages the blacks were depressing the price of labor. Lack of property deprived blacks of the vote and other civil rights, preventing them from participating in the decisions of state. An economic depression after the War of 1812, and the postwar arrival of large numbers of working-class whites from Britain, blunted opportunities for upward mobility. Poverty and marginalization were thus constituted as basic components in the early black experience, and have been perpetuated over subsequent generations within an environment that continued to discriminate in terms of race. Because they constituted a large proportion of the labor pool, blacks were essential to the foundation of colonial Nova Scotia and New Brunswick—it was they who cleared the fields, laid the roads, and constructed the public buildings—but they have never shared in the benefits of their own labor.The fugitives who arrived in Ontario fleeing American slavery typically arrived destitute, and since there was no provision of government land grants they usually became laborers on the lands of others. An expanding frontier economy offered employment opportunities—for example in road, canal, and railroad construction—and the proceeds were frequently used to purchase farms or establish small businesses. Competition from Irish immigrants escaping the famine of the 1840s, and then the increasing black population after 1850, meant a reduction of those opportunities. Many individual fugitives arrived with specialized skills, and some, especially those who had lived free in the Northern states, brought capital to invest. On the West Coast, the California migrants entered a gold-rush economy in which their savings and skills produced considerable entrepreneurial success.Still, most black families across Canada remained dependent on the white-dominated economy for their subsistence. As so-called “scientific” racism became the common sense of the later nineteenth century among the majority population, employers regarded Africans as suitable primarily for service and unskilled labor. With few exceptions, the relative economic status of black families tended to drift even lower at the approach of the new century, and the children of small shopkeepers and artisans often found employment only in the lowest-paid categories of the labor market.Throughout their history in Canada, black women had to seek paid employment, since black men rarely earned sufficient wages to maintain a wife at home. Experience in slavery, and indeed the heritage of Africa, disposed African Canadian women to participate economically to a much greater degree than was common in the English Canadian community. Women could find poorly paid work in the textile industry, though the most typical female employment was domestic service. A Montreal survey in 1928 revealed that almost 100 percent of employed black women were domestics; it was still 80 percent in 1941. Clerical and sales positions were denied almost absolutely to black women unless there was some family connection. Black women could be elevator operators, and black men could stock the shelves, but neither could serve the public in shops and department stores. Small businesses such as hairdressers and barbers continued, with a largely black clientele, but the grocery stores, butcher shops, and tobacconists of an earlier era, depending on nonblack customers to be viable, largely disappeared. Even with education or training, black people could not find the work for which they were qualified.The epitome of male employment ambition in the first half of the twentieth century was the position of railway porter. As in the United States, black men were associated with personal service of the kind expected from a sleeping car porter. In the 1928 Montreal survey mentioned previously, 90 percent of employed black men worked for the railroad as porters, redcaps, shoe shiners, elevator operators, cooks, and waiters. During the 1920s and increasingly during the Great Depression of the 1930s, whites replaced blacks as cooks and waiters, and only the sleeping car porter remained a black enclave. It was only after World War II (1939–1945) that blacks gained the right to promotion to sleeping car conductor and other senior positions, a symptom of a broader movement to remove restrictions in employment and other areas in Canadian life. The successful campaign for Fair Employment Practices laws, in which African Canadians featured prominently, eliminated overt discrimination in the 1950s, though the legacies of generations of disadvantage are still apparent, particularly in the Maritimes. Black immigrants are bringing every kind of skill and are entering every corner of the Canadian economy, but the 1996 census figures indicate that employed blacks, whether immigrants or Canadian-born, have an average income that is 15 percent lower than that of their white neighbors.Community and FamilyAfrican Canadians have a wide variety of origins and histories, but in Canada they have shared a common relationship with the nonblack majority. From pioneer times, African Canadians learned that they were vulnerable as individuals and therefore developed a tradition of communal response and mutual support. This has been a prevailing theme in African Canadian community life. There are recorded examples of black Loyalists selling their hard-won property in order to keep a community member out of debt, for indebtedness often led to indentured servitude and, for blacks, a return to slavery. The refugees engaged in communal land clearing and home building, and declined to dismember their communities in the 1830s when offered larger land grants on an individual basis. Their leaders replied to the government that as individuals they could not survive, and unless they could be relocated as community groups they would rather stay where they were. The Ontario fugitives demonstrated similar concerns in their vigilance committees against marauding kidnappers and in the voluntary establishment of organized communal settlements.Black Loyalists and refugees most often arrived in family units. Among the later fugitives, it was often the male partner who arrived first; he would then try to assist family members in escaping. Income from both partners was always necessary to sustain family life, and because of gender as well as racial divisions in the marketplace, there were sometimes more employment opportunities for black women than for men. Black women have therefore played an important economic role in family life and have experienced considerable independence as a result. Collaboration was required with other community members, particularly for child care. Raised in a communal fashion, black children developed family-like relationships throughout the local community. A strong sense of group identity and mutual reliance produced an intimate community life and a refuge against white discrimination. As a result of these conditions, family and community have blended throughout much of African Canadian history.The cement binding the black community has historically been the church. Church membership offered opportunities to participate in community affairs, and produced networks for cooperative endeavor. Inevitably, the churches assumed the major social and political role in community life, and the clergy became the natural community leaders. The host of fraternal organizations, mutual-assistance bands, temperance societies, and antislavery associations formed by African Canadians were almost always associated with the churches. The churches also led the movement for greater educational and employment opportunities and for civil rights, especially in the era immediately after World War II.The postwar decade also saw the emergence of regional and provincial secular organizations, such as the Nova Scotia Association for the Advancement of Colored People, established in Halifax in 1945, and the Canadian Negro Women's Association, founded in Toronto in 1951. Urbanization and increasing secularization in the last half-century have changed the role of the church and the local community. Governments now supply services that churches and charities once provided, and the clergy no longer play an intermediary role with the institutions of the white majority. Above all, the waves of new black immigrants are producing social conditions never before experienced by African Canadians, with significant implications for family and community structures.Jeff Edwards, an African American who migrated from Oklahoma to western Canada around 1910, owned this farm until his retirement, when he turned over the property to his son, Booker T. Edwards. The Edwards family was among a group of black Oklahomans who settled in Amber Valley, Alberta. Glenbow Archives; Calgary, AlbertaEven when they arrive in family groups, black immigrants are disconnected from the extended kinship networks and communities of their Caribbean or African homelands. Postimmigration strains in newly reunited families can produce marital breakdown and generational conflict. In 1991 more than 13 percent of black families had a single parent, compared to just over 4 percent of other Canadian families, and over 90 percent of the single black parents were female. New demands are therefore being made on existing community structures, which developed historically to suit different conditions. In response, a wide variety of more specialized organizations has recently arisen, such as business and professional associations, black labor caucuses, athletic clubs, organizations for black artists and social workers, and black-specific family services. There is no longer a single African Canadian community tradition, though Canadian conditions continue to call upon the pioneering values of mutual reliance and the cooperative advancement of community rights within Canadian society.Church and SchoolThe church was the first institution established in the various black communities scattered across Canada, and its influence pervaded every aspect of African Canadian life. In the Loyalist era, Anglican, Methodist, Baptist, and Huntingdonian chapels were founded in the Maritime black settlements. The black refugees were mostly Baptists or Methodists, and they established churches in their communities after 1815. Since most black settlements were physically separate, their churches too were separate from outside supervision. This nourished the development of distinct styles of worship and interpretation of the Scriptures. Even when they were members of mainstream congregations, the early black Christians were usually compelled to worship separately. In the 1830s, under the stewardship of the Reverend Richard Preston, the Baptist faith embraced almost the entire black population of Nova Scotia. Preston's crusade culminated in 1854, when he created the African Baptist Association of Nova Scotia as an autonomous black denomination.Similarly, fugitives arriving in Ontario established churches in their settlements. The first Baptist churches in the province were founded by black preachers and were originally mixed, but by the 1830s white congregants had separated to form their own churches. In 1841 black Baptist representatives created the Amherstburg Baptist Association as a deliberately black denomination. The earliest black Methodists affiliated with the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) in the United States. In 1856, to demonstrate their loyalty to their new home, they created the all-Canadian British Methodist Episcopal Church (BME). Some AME congregations, however, voted to remain with their original affiliation, so both the AME and the BME have continued to operate in Ontario.John Ware, shown here with his wife and children, was a successful rancher and well-known horse rider and bronco buster. Glenbow Archives; Calgary, AlbertaBy the middle of the nineteenth century, in the Maritimes and Ontario, black Christians attended black churches, with black pastors who interpreted the Gospel and ministered to their congregations according to their needs. As head of what was often the only local black institution, the preacher tended to be the community's leader and chief negotiator with outside institutions.There was one other institution, the school, which arose in the early black settlements and was most often associated with the church. British charitable organizations sponsored schools in most of the Maritime black communities beginning in the 1780s, and the earliest teachers were the same men and women who served as preachers. Later, the Reverend Richard Preston encouraged the Baptists to use their church halls as schools. Special votes from the provincial legislature provided funds for the black community schools, but the support was never entirely satisfactory. In Ontario, until the end of the Civil War drew funds to the American freedpeople, British and American missionary societies established schools for fugitive children, as did some of the black congregations. In addition, the governments of both Nova Scotia and Ontario created legally segregated public schools, supported by local taxation and counterpart grants from the province. Almost every black child therefore had an opportunity to attend school, and very often the teacher was a black person and a member of the community. Funding, however, was chronically inadequate, and the quality of education tended to be inferior.Combined with residential isolation and economic deprivation, poor schooling helped to perpetuate a situation of limited opportunity and restricted mobility. There were several court cases in Ontario, brought by parents to challenge the exclusion of their children from the regular schools. Although the courts upheld the legality of segregated education, they did insist that every child must have access to an education and therefore if no black school existed, black children must be admitted to the regular school. Over time, using such tactics as tax strikes and boycotts, parents were able to close the black schools and gain admission for the children to non-segregated state schools. In Nova Scotia a similar legal solution evolved in the late nineteenth century, but because the black communities tended to be more isolated, there were not the same opportunities to force integration. This changed in the 1950s and 1960s with urbanization and with the development of consolidated school districts incorporating the black settlements. Legislative reforms in the same period made segregation illegal across Canada.Besides the societal trend toward urbanization and secularization, Caribbean and African immigration has had an immense impact, bringing new denominations and entirely new religions into the African Canadian culture. Immigration has also brought a very high proportion of well-educated and professional black people to Canada, with an average standard of achievement higher than Canadian-born blacks or whites. A situation of disadvantage remains in some of the historic communities, so special programs have been launched, such as the Transition Year Program at Dalhousie University for black and Micmac students, to correct the long-standing heritage of educational deprivation.Participation in Mainstream AffairsAfrican Canadians have consistently sought to contribute to the affairs of their nation and to gain full rights as Canadian citizens, though not always with complete success. Much effort and organization have gone into campaigns to overcome racist restrictions in education, employment, accommodations, and civil rights. With some major exceptions Canadian law tended to be egalitarian, but private discrimination was legally permitted. The period after World War II witnessed an intensification of this effort, and the consequent passage of Fair Practices and Human Rights legislation in the 1950s and 1960s. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1982), the Employment Equity Act (1986), and the Multiculturalism Act (1988) promised greater and more systemic changes. The opportunities are still in the process of being realized.Blacks demonstrated their loyalty to Great Britain and Canada in every war since the American Revolution. During World War I (1914–1918) their participation was initially rejected, but in 1916 they were admitted into a segregated unit, the Nova Scotia Number Two Construction Battalion (Colored). There was no separate unit in World War II, but there remained restrictions on black participation in the air force and navy until 1943 and 1944, respectively. Overt discrimination in the mil itary has been overcome in the general movement for racial equality since the war.Formed in 1860, the Victoria Rifle Corps was an all-black unit that came to be known as “The African Rifles.” British Columbia ArchivesBy the 1830s black Canadians' right to vote was recognized, and in many parts of the country blacks ran for elected office. There have been black municipal councilors and school trustees since the middle of the nineteenth century, most notably William Hubbard, who served as councilor, controller, and acting mayor of Toronto between 1894 and 1907. Leonard Braithwaite was the first African Canadian in a provincial legislature when he was elected in Ontario in 1963, and Lincoln Alexander, from Hamilton, became the first black federal member in 1968. In 1985 Alexander was appointed lieutenant-governor of Ontario, the vice-regal post in the Canadian system representing the constitutional monarch. In 1993 Wayne Adams became the first black member of the Nova Scotian cabinet. Blacks have sat in the federal and provincial legislatures as Liberals, Conservatives, and New Democrats. Through their own struggle against injustice and their insistence upon recognition of equality in the law, black Canadians have bequeathed an impressive structure of constitutional rights from which all Canadians benefit today.Culture and IdentityAfrican Canadians represent a cultural mosaic as diverse as any in the world, with substantial African, Caribbean, and African American contributions. Yet it is possible to recognize a Canadian trajectory in black cultural evolution. In their concentrated settlements, the early blacks had the opportunity to retain cultural characteristics carried from Africa and from American slavery, and to develop new adaptations in response to Canadian conditions. The separate churches lent institutional support to the preservation and transmission of black culture, so that music, dance, folklore, even daily speech, became imbued with religious motifs. The original pioneers brought an energy suitable to those who had crossed a continent for their freedom, and an abiding faith that English Canadian institutions would fulfill the promise of equality. This combination, occasionally locked in mutual contradiction, has reverberated through the development of black Canadian culture.The earliest records of the black Canadian experience are autobiographical narratives. Three of the most influential black Loyalist preachers, Baptist David George, Methodist Boston King, and Huntingdonian John Marrant, left accounts of their lives in the eighteenth century. Autobiography was also the typical literary form for the nineteenth-century fugitives. Leaders of three Ontario black settlements, Austin Steward of Wilberforce, Josiah Henson of Dawn, and Henry Bibb of the Refugee Home, participated in the popular genre of the fugitive slave narrative. All are redolent with struggle against injustice tempered by a confidence in the goodwill of white society, and with liberal use of biblical quotation revealing the implicit amalgamation of religious and political principle.The first black newspaper was the Voice of the Fugitive, edited by Henry Bibb and his schoolteacher wife, Mary, from 1851 to 1854. In its final year Bibb's paper was challenged by the Provincial Freeman, edited at least until 1859 by Mary Ann Shadd, the first female editor in Canada and the first black female editor anywhere in North America. Like the autobiographies, the two Ontario newspapers reflected their community's commitment to land ownership, self-reliance through mutual assistance, education, British loyalty, and Christian values, though Shadd disagreed with Bibb's support for the establishment of separate black communities. During World War I, the Canadian Observer was edited by J. R. B. Whitney in Toronto, and in 1923 James F. Jenkins founded the Dawn of Tomorrow in London, Ontario, both of which extolled the same community ambitions as their predecessors. When Carrie Best founded the Clarion in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, in 1946, she gave it the masthead motto “For Church and Community.”Black music tended to celebrate religious themes, and the church-based mass choir was its most typical expression both within the community and before Canadian society at large. In the twentieth century, African Canadians have contributed to Ragtime, Jazz, and Blues, often gaining a reputation in the United States. Among them, Nathaniel Dett, Shelton Brooks, and Oscar Peterson all took their early training in a black church. More recently, Caribbean musical fashions have been introduced, including Calypso and Reggae, and Rap music has come from the United States, but the black Canadian choir tradition has been maintained by Montreal's Jubilation Gospel Choir and the Nova Scotia Mass Choir, among others.Beginning in the 1970s black Nova Scotia experienced a cultural outburst that has justifiably been labeled a renaissance, for it utilizes historic themes and personalities and styles of expression. The Nova Scotia renaissance has been defined by poets—for example, George Elliott Clarke, Maxine Tynes, George Borden, and David Woods—but has been expressed as well in plays, novels, and films. Nova Scotia did not receive a numerically significant immigration from Africa and the Caribbean, but elsewhere in Canada it is primarily immigrants such as Austin Clarke and Dionne Brand who are resurrecting the black literary tradition and weaving into it a Caribbean memory and the migratory experience.Since 1783 African Canadians have identified with Canada and with the Canadian dream, and although it has often been exposed as an illusion, black people have never lost their commitment to that ideal. Their usual tactic of quiet diplomacy has represented not satisfaction with the status quo, but rather a Canadian commitment to constitutionalism as well as a recognition that success depends upon cooperation rather than confrontation with a majority population that is still 98 percent nonblack. Although an exciting new black culture is emerging as a result of immigration, common experience in Canada is encouraging a sense of shared destiny, and the traditional black community in Canada is being explored in literature and the arts in a search for the sustaining characteristics of this historic people. While there is no single community, identity, or culture among African Canadians, it is surely significant that in recent census questionnaires, when Canadians have been invited to designate their own ethnicity in a variety of fashions (including continent, region, or country of origin), the largest number, and a majority of the younger people, have chosen to identify as “black Canadian.”See also Fugitive Slave Laws; Maroonage in the Americas; Slave Narratives.
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