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Black History Month at Mackenzie House

At home, I learn about Black History every month, but February is Black History Month in Canada and there was a special program on at Mackenzie House.

Dad and I went to Mackenzie House on Sunday. We went on a tour of the house and we went to the print shop.

We learnt about Mary Ann Shadd Cary who was the first Black woman publisher in Canada.

She was an abolitionist which means she wanted slavery to end. She also wanted integrated schools where black children and white children would go to school together. She came to Canada in 1851 and opened a school for Black children. But she wanted to publish her own newspaper. 

In 1853, Mary Ann Shadd Cary and Samuel Ringgold Ward started the Provincial Freeman.

In the Print Shop we printed the front page of the paper from Saturday, November 18, 1854.

There was an article about the conditions of the "Fugitive Slaves in Canada". The Anti-Slavery Society of Canada asked Rev. Samuel Ringgold Wald to make the conditions of the fugitive slaves known to the public so they could raise money to help them.

There were about 30,000 to 35,000 fugitive slaves in Canada at that time. When they reached Canada they had nothing because they had to flee very quietly and sometimes suddenly. It was a long, dangerous journey. If they were caught in America it would have been very bad for them. When they reached Canada they were tired and needed compassion. Sometimes they were even sick when they reached.

The Anti-Slavery Society and a Ladies Society in Toronto helped them with food, clothing and whatever they needed until they could find jobs. In the article it said "In no case has the Society been called upon to extend relief for more than six days, except in cases of illness".

I was surprised that the newly free Blacks were able to find jobs and start to settle in that quickly! It must have been so different for them in Canada!

The article pointed out that there was still discrimination based on colour in Canada but the industry of the free Blacks helped to prove that the slaves in America didn't need to be 'prepared' for Emancipation.

Dad took a couple pictures of us printing the page.

And here is the finished product - with dry ink. :-)

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