The Impact of Black Canadians on Canadian Society
By: Shameka Jordine
It is not very often that an African Canadian is accredited with making contributions to Canadian society and it is even less often that there is an opportunity for students to learn about these humble Canadians. The truth, however, is that black Canadians have challenged how the entire world once viewed not only Canadian society, but what we were capable of if given an equal opportunity as well as support from one another. Black Canadians have helped define Canada's diverse society and heritage through their many contributions by challenging and overcoming the stigma once associated with them. By doing so, they paved the way for black Canadians today to make contributions and not be held back due to false ideologies created and maintained by dominate groups. As far back as the 1700's (when the American slave trade began to flourish), black people were often seen as wards of the state. It was a commonly vocalized and theorized belief that blacks could simply not take care of themselves. We needed the guidance and intellect of more "civilized" people to manage and aid us in our every endeavour. This concept became widely accepted not only in American society, but in Canadian society, as well. However, after the War of 1812, black loyalists were allotted some land in Nova Scotia with which they could do whatever they pleased. In no time at all, there grew a small and very tight knit community called Africville. Although the standards in which they lived were not up to par (at no fault of their own), there were few complaints and many rejoices at the ownership of something that was truly theirs. The community was maintained solely by those who resided there and little to no action was taken to improve the conditions by the government of Halifax. The black Canadians in Africville proved to the Canadian government that they were more than capable of taking Jordine 2 care of themselves. They proved, as a community that so long as they were given the opportunity, they could survive in this country; anyone could survive in this country. Although the history of Africville is somewhat grim, the passion of those who lived there was nothing short of gleeful. It was their fervent pride and love for their community that make a grand statement in Canadian history. That statement was that anyone could make it in Canada. Although that may not seem like a revolutionary concept today, it was nothing short of far-fetched back then. The statement made by our brave Africville residents became somewhat of a commonly known fact in Canadian society. Citizens operate today with a sort of "if they could do it, so can I" mentality, even if they are not fully aware of what had to happen to make our lives as citizens and immigrants comfortable.
A common topic in Canadian history is that of the rights of the people. It has always been on the Canadian agenda