I applaud the Canadian government for officially apologizing and in some cases compensating groups of people that they have wronged in the past. Persons of Chinese, Japanese, Sikh, Jewish, First Nations, are examples of groups of people that the Canadian government found it necessary to either officially apologize to, or apologize to and compensate, for wrongs done to them by the government of Canada. Prime Minister Trudeau has said that he will honor a campaign promise an officially apologize and possible offer a compensation package to the LGBT community before this winter. It is this new promise that has reopened and old wound. I agree an official apology is due the LGBT community, but what about the Black community?
Every time the government officially apologizes to another group of people without officially apologizing to Black Canadians the scab is ripped from the unhealed wound of all Canadian Black people. Black Canadians cannot heal, because no matter which federal party holds the power in Ottawa, none has apologized, or promised to apologize to the survivors or descendants of those they have so horrifically wronged.
Does the Canadian government really believe that:
- Canada has done nothing wrong to Black people?
- To apologize would be admitting something that they wish to stay officially in Canada’s closet?
- Black people of do not care if they get an official apology or not?
- That the suffering of Blacks in this country was not bad enough to warrant an official apology?
I do not which one, or combination of reasons accounts for the lack of an official apology. I do know that Black Canadians are the only Canadians that have been damaged by the Canadian government’s action, or in-action that has not been officially apologised to.
The Canadian government has always insisted that:
- Black people faced no discrimination in the immigration process when seeking to immigrate to Canada. The truth is that when Black Oklahoman farmers developed an interest in moving to Canada to flee increased racism at home, several boards of trade and the Edmonton Municipal Council called on Ottawa to prevent black immigration. In 1911, an order in council was drafted prohibiting the landing of “any immigrant belonging to the Negro race, which race is deemed unsuitable to the climate and requirements of Canada”;
- Canada’s only role in the slavery business, was to provide refuge and a fresh start for freed American slaves. The truth is that Canada provided lumber and food for the slave ships and received rum, tobacco, sugar, and enslaved Africans in return;
- Black immigrants were given the opportunity to become successful members of Canadian society. The truth is that African-Canadians were excluded from most employment except domestic work or as railroad porters;
- Black Canadians should praise Canada for all the love and support that their ancestors received at the hands of the government of Canada and all Canadians. The truth is that the provincial government of Nova Scotia bulldozed down an African-Canadian village located just north of Halifax that was founded in the mid-18th century. Promises to replace the evicted families’ houses were never kept, monetary compensation for the for many of the evicted was never received. The victims of the racist government action now have a park dedicated to the memory of their loss.
The truth is that the ancestors of Black Canadians ran to a country where slaves were bought and sold and where even after the abolition of slavery they were hated and treated as inferior.
One only need read the story of Marie Joseph Angelique. For the full story of Marie Joseph Angelique follow this link, it is where I got the info for the short version used in this post. http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/marie-joseph-angelique
Marie Joseph Angelique, born circa 1705 in Madeira, Portugal died June 21, 1734 in Montreal Canada. Angelique was an enslaved Black woman. In 1734, she was charged with arson after a fire leveled Montreal’s merchants quarter. It was alleged that Angelique committed the act while attempting to flee her bondage. This accusation was never proven. (The only confession from her came because of her torture.) Marie Joseph Angelique would be tortured, hanged, and then her body burned.
Well that is an example of what Black people had to endure during the birth of Canada. After slavery was abolished in Canada things did not go any better for Black Canadians in Canada’s infancy. Canada did not officially abolish slavery until August 1st, 1834. That is 100 years after the murder of Marie Joseph Angelique, and 30 years before Canada as a nation is born.
Montreal just celebrated its 375th birthday and it was no surprise to me that role of Black people in the success of the city was not directly mentioned in the Mayors speech.
The Mayor: “I think it’s a great moment that we are living today, because we always put forward the idea of living together,” Mayor Denis Coderre said Wednesday. “We started with the French, with the Indigenous people. We have our flag that represents the English, the Irish and the Scottish, then all that wonderful diversity that sends a strong message that living together is part of our DNA.”
I am with the First Nations people, who point out that Montreal was founded on land stolen from the Mohawks. Expecting First Nations people and other non white, non-Christian to find a lot to celebrate about is in my opinion both insensitive and unrealistic. This was a celebration for White, Christian people of European descent. This is a flaunting and celebration of the historical wrong doing, associated with European colonialism.
Unfortunately not too much has changed for Blacks living in a supposedly more civilized, open and proud to be richly diverse, Canada.
- forced relocation of an entire ethnic community such as Africville in Nova Scotia? The relocation of the Africville residents occurred between 1964 and 1967. The last house was bulldozed January 2, 1970.
- In the province of Quebec, Canadian Black people cannot get the Quebec government to stop using the word “Nigger” when officially naming government landmarks. The Quebec government has used the excuse that removing the word “Nigger” from existing government landmarks, would diminish the historical accuracy of said sites.
- In Quebec, Canada, Black face performances are still considered an acceptable form of entertainment and part of Quebec’s cultural heritage. An art form to be proud of and passed on from one generation to another; no matter how offensive to Black people it is;
- From the West Coast to the East Coast Black have been murdered by white police officers. Officers are charged, but always found not guilty of abusing their duty. When they are found guilty of being racist, they are not removed from the force, but rather protected and given what amounts to being slapped on the wrist.
A good place for the government to begin to consider whether Black Canadians deserve an apology from them or not, would be their involvement in:
- the African slave trade for a minimum of 100 years.
- the forcefully stripping of African slaves of their cultural, language and religion. (this is a definition of genocide)
All that the Afro-Canadian Black once was, was forcefully taken from them: replaced even in freedom by those of the White masters. It is historical fact that the Canadian government took an active role in what was going on.
Canada will celebrate its 150th birthday on July 1st, and with no apology in sight for its Black citizens, it is my guess that the Canadian government will be asking their Black citizens to once again put on a happy face, pretend that everything is okay, and keep Canada’s abuse of them in the closet… a conversation best not had in public. The non-conversation making an official apology from the government, not necessary.