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Black Canadian

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'Black Canadians is a designation used for people of Black African
Black people
The term black people is used in systems of racial classification for humans of a dark skinned phenotype, relative to other racial groups.Different societies apply different criteria regarding who is classified as "black", and often social variables such as class, socio-economic status also plays a...

 descent, who are citizens or permanent residents of Canada. The term specifically refers to Canadians with Sub-Saharan Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa as a geographical term refers to the area of the African continent which lies south of the Sahara. A political definition of Sub-Saharan Africa, instead, covers all African countries which are fully or partially located south of the Sahara...

n ancestry. The majority of Black Canadians are of Caribbean origin. Many Canadians identify as Black
Black people
The term black people is used in systems of racial classification for humans of a dark skinned phenotype, relative to other racial groups.Different societies apply different criteria regarding who is classified as "black", and often social variables such as class, socio-economic status also plays a...

 even though they may have multi-ethnic ancestries.

Black Canadians and other Canadians often draw a distinction between those of Afro-Caribbean ancestry and those of other African roots. The term African Canadian is also used by Black Canadians who trace their heritage to the first slaves brought by British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 and French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 colonists to the mainland of North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

, but many Blacks of Caribbean origin in Canada reject the term African Canadian as an elision of the uniquely Caribbean aspects of their heritage, and instead identify as Caribbean Canadian. Unlike in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 where African American
African American
African Americans are citizens or residents of the United States who have at least partial ancestry from any of the native populations of Sub-Saharan Africa and are the direct descendants of enslaved Africans within the boundaries of the present United States...

 is the most widely accepted term, due to these tensions and controversies between the African and Caribbean communities the term "Black Canadian" is still accepted in the Canadian context. The vast majority of Black-targeted cultural and social institutions in Canada serve both the Caribbean Canadian and African Canadian communities equally.

Black Canadians have contributed to many areas. Many of the first visible minorities
Visible minority
A visible minority is a person who is visibly not one of the majority race in a given population.The term is used as a demographic category by Statistics Canada in connection with that country's Employment Equity policies. The qualifier "visible" is important in the Canadian context where...

 to hold high public offices have been Black, opening the door for other minorities. Some of whom include, but are not limited to: Michaëlle Jean
Michaëlle Jean
Michaëlle Jean is a Canadian journalist and stateswoman who served as Governor General of Canada, the 27th since Canadian Confederation, from 2005 to 2010....

, Donald Oliver
Donald Oliver
Donald H. Oliver, QC is a Canadian Senator.A lawyer and developer, Oliver is a member of Nova Scotia's Black minority. He is the nephew of Canadian opera singer Portia White, politician Bill White and labour union activist Jack White, and the cousin of political strategist Sheila White...

, Stanley G. Grizzle
Stanley G. Grizzle
Stanley G. Grizzle, CM, O.Ont is a retired Canadian citizenship judge and labour union activist. Born in 1918 in Toronto, to Jamaican immigrants, he was the oldest of seven children.-Union experience:...

, Rosemary Brown
Rosemary Brown (politician)
Rosemary Brown, PC, OC, OBC, née Wedderburn , was a Canadian politician.- Early years :Rosemary Brown was born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1930, and moved to Canada in 1950 to study at McGill University in Montreal...

 and Lincoln Alexander
Lincoln Alexander
-External links:* * *...

. Black Canadians form the third largest visible minority group in Canada, after South Asia
South Asia
South Asia, also known as Southern Asia, is the southern region of the Asian continent, which comprises the sub-Himalayan countries and, for some authorities , also includes the adjoining countries to the west and the east...

n and Chinese
Chinese Canadian
Chinese Canadians are Canadians of Chinese descent. They constitute the second-largest visible minority group in Canada, after South Asian Canadians...

 people.

Population


According to the 2006 Census
Canada 2006 Census
The Canada 2006 Census was a detailed enumeration of the Canadian population. Census day was May 16, 2006. The next census following will be the 2011 Census. Canada's total population enumerated by the 2006 census was 31,612,897...

 by Statistics Canada
Statistics Canada
Statistics Canada is the Canadian federal government agency commissioned with producing statistics to help better understand Canada, its population, resources, economy, society, and culture. Its headquarters is in Ottawa....

, 783,795 Canadians identified themselves as black, constituting 2.5% of the entire Canadian population. Of the black population, 11% identified themselves as a mixed-race
Multiracial
The terms multiracial and mixed-race describe people whose ancestries come from multiple races. Unlike the term biracial, which often is only used to refer to having parents or grandparents of two different races, the term multiracial may encompass biracial people but can also include people with...

 of "white
White people
White people is a term which usually refers to human beings characterized, at least in part, by the light pigmentation of their skin...

 and black". The five largest provinces of black population in 2006 were Ontario
Ontario
Ontario is a province of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province and second largest in total area. It is home to the nation's most populous city, Toronto, and the nation's capital, Ottawa....

, Quebec
Quebec
Quebec or is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level....

, Alberta
Alberta
Alberta is a province of Canada. It had an estimated population of 3.7 million in 2010 making it the most populous of Canada's three prairie provinces...

, British Columbia
British Columbia
British Columbia is the westernmost of Canada's provinces and is known for its natural beauty, as reflected in its Latin motto, Splendor sine occasu . Its name was chosen by Queen Victoria in 1858...

, and Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces and is the most populous province in Atlantic Canada. The name of the province is Latin for "New Scotland," but "Nova Scotia" is the recognized, English-language name of the province. The provincial capital is Halifax. Nova Scotia is the...

. The ten largest census metropolitan areas of black population were Toronto
Toronto
Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the largest city in Canada. It is located in Southern Ontario on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. A relatively modern city, Toronto's history dates back to the late-18th century, when its land was first purchased by the British monarchy from...

, Montreal
Montreal
Montreal is a city in Canada. It is the largest city in the province of Quebec, the second-largest city in Canada and the seventh largest in North America...

, Ottawa
Ottawa
Ottawa is the capital of Canada, the second largest city in the Province of Ontario, and the fourth largest city in the country. The city is located on the south bank of the Ottawa River in the eastern portion of Southern Ontario...

, Calgary
Calgary
Calgary is a city in the Province of Alberta, Canada. It is located in the south of the province, in an area of foothills and prairie, approximately east of the front ranges of the Canadian Rockies...

, Vancouver
Vancouver
Vancouver is a coastal seaport city on the mainland of British Columbia, Canada. It is the hub of Greater Vancouver, which, with over 2.3 million residents, is the third most populous metropolitan area in the country,...

, Edmonton
Edmonton
Edmonton is the capital of the Canadian province of Alberta and is the province's second-largest city. Edmonton is located on the North Saskatchewan River and is the centre of the Edmonton Capital Region, which is surrounded by the central region of the province.The city and its census...

, Hamilton
Hamilton, Ontario
Hamilton is a port city in the Canadian province of Ontario. Conceived by George Hamilton when he purchased the Durand farm shortly after the War of 1812, Hamilton has become the centre of a densely populated and industrialized region at the west end of Lake Ontario known as the Golden Horseshoe...

, Winnipeg
Winnipeg
Winnipeg is the capital and largest city of Manitoba, Canada, and is the primary municipality of the Winnipeg Capital Region, with more than half of Manitoba's population. It is located near the longitudinal centre of North America, at the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers .The name...

, Halifax, and Oshawa
Oshawa
Oshawa is a city in Ontario, Canada, on the Lake Ontario shoreline. It lies in Southern Ontario approximately 60 kilometres east of downtown Toronto. It is commonly viewed as the eastern anchor of both the Greater Toronto Area and the Golden Horseshoe. It is now commonly referred to as the most...

. Preston
Preston, Nova Scotia
Preston is an area in central Nova Scotia, Canada in the Halifax Regional Municipality, located on Trunk 7. The population in 2006 was 2,360 including East Preston and North Preston....

, in the Halifax area, is the community with the highest percentage of Blacks at 69.4%.

Blacks of Caribbean origin form a much larger proportion of the black community in Canada than in the United States — in fact, about 30% of Canada's black population is of Jamaica
Jamaica
Jamaica is an island nation of the Greater Antilles, in length, up to in width and 10,990 square kilometres in area. It is situated in the Caribbean Sea, about south of Cuba, and west of Hispaniola, the island harbouring the nation-states Haiti and the Dominican Republic...

n origin alone, and a further 32% are from other Caribbean nations. However, there are also regional demographic variations. In particular, the community in Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces and is the most populous province in Atlantic Canada. The name of the province is Latin for "New Scotland," but "Nova Scotia" is the recognized, English-language name of the province. The provincial capital is Halifax. Nova Scotia is the...

, which has a unique history stretching back to the Black Loyalist
Black Loyalist
A Black Loyalist was an inhabitant of British America of African descent who joined British colonial forces during the American Revolutionary War...

 movement during the American Revolution
American Revolution
The American Revolution was the political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century in which thirteen colonies in North America joined together to break free from the British Empire, combining to become the United States of America...

, and the community in Southwestern Ontario
Southwestern Ontario
Southwestern Ontario is a subregion of Southern Ontario in the Canadian province of Ontario, centred on the city of London. It extends north to south from the Bruce Peninsula on Lake Huron to the Lake Erie shoreline, and east to south-west roughly from Guelph to Windsor. The region had a population...

, a major historical destination along the Underground Railroad
Underground Railroad
The Underground Railroad was an informal network of secret routes and safe houses used by 19th-century black slaves in the United States to escape to free states and Canada with the aid of abolitionists and allies who were sympathetic to their cause. The term is also applied to the abolitionists,...

, are much more strongly associated with African American immigration from the United States, and much less with Caribbean immigration, than in most of Canada. Because of their distinct history, blacks in Nova Scotia are also commonly identified as a distinct Black Nova Scotian
Black Nova Scotians
Black Nova Scotians are people of Black African descent whose ancestors fled Colonial America as slaves or freemen to settle in Nova Scotia, Canada during the 18th and 19th centuries. According to the 2006 Census of Canada, there are 19,230 black people currently living in Nova Scotia, most of whom...

 community within the larger Black Canadian group, a distinction that is not shared by any other Canadian province.

Census issues

Black population by year
Year Population % of Canadian
Population
1871 21,500 0.6
1881 21,400 0.5
1901 17,500 0.3
1911 16,900 0.2
1921 18,300 0.2
1931 19,500 0.2
1941 22,200 0.2
1951 18,000 0.1
1961 32,100 0.2
1971 34,400 0.2
1981 239,500 1.0
1991 504,300 1.9
2001 662,200 2.2
2006 783,795 2.5


At times, it has been alleged that Black Canadians have been significantly undercounted in census data. Writer George Elliott Clarke
George Elliott Clarke
George Elliott Clarke, OC is a Canadian poet and playwright. His work largely explores and chronicles the experience and history of the Black Canadian community of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, creating a cultural geography that Clarke refers to as "Africadia".-Life:Born to William and Geraldine...

 has cited a McGill University
McGill University
Mohammed Fathy is a public research university located in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The university bears the name of James McGill, a prominent Montreal merchant from Glasgow, Scotland, whose bequest formed the beginning of the university...

 study which found that fully 43 per cent of all Black Canadians were not counted as black in the 1991 Canadian census, because they had identified themselves on census forms as British, French or other cultural identities which were not included in the census group of Black cultures.

Although subsequent censuses have reported the population of Black Canadians to be much more consistent with the McGill study's revised 1991 estimate than with the official 1991 census data, no recent study has been conducted to determine whether some Black Canadians are still substantially missed.

Terminology


One of the ongoing controversies in the Black Canadian community revolves around appropriate terminologies. Many Canadians of Afro-Caribbean origin strongly object to the term "African Canadian", as it obscures their own culture and history, and this partially accounts for the term's less prevalent use in Canada, compared to the consensus "African American" south of the border.

"Caribbean Canadian" is often used to refer to Black Canadians of Caribbean heritage, although this usage can also be controversial because the Caribbean is not populated only by people of African origin, but also includes large groups of Indo-Caribbean
Indo-Caribbean
Indo-Caribbean people or Indo-Caribbeans are Caribbean people with roots in India or the Indian subcontinent. They are mostly descendants of the original indentured workers brought by the British, the Dutch and the French during colonial times...

s, Chinese Caribbean
Chinese Caribbean
Chinese Caribbeans are people of Chinese ethnic origin living in the Caribbean. There are small but significant populations of Chinese and their descendants in all countries of the Greater Antilles...

s, European Caribbeans, Syrian or Lebanese Caribbeans, Latino
Latino
The demonyms Latino and Latina , are defined in English language dictionaries as:* "a person of Latin-American descent."* "A Latin American."* "A person of Hispanic, especially Latin-American, descent, often one living in the United States."...

s and Amerindians. The term "West Indian" is often used by those of Caribbean ancestry, although the term is more of a cultural description than a racial one, and can equally be applied to groups of many different racial and ethnic backgrounds. The term "Afro-Caribbean-Canadian" is occasionally used in response to this controversy, although as of , this term is still not widely seen in common usage.

More specific national terms such as "Jamaican Canadian
Jamaican Canadian
Jamaican Canadians are Canadians of Jamaican descent, or Jamaican-born people with Canadian citizenship. The population, according to Canada's 2006 Census, is 231,110. Jamaican Canadians comprise about 30% of the entire black Canadian population.-History:...

", "Haitian Canadian
Haïtian Canadians
Citizens from the Francophone Caribbean island nation of Haiti began immigrating to Canada in the 1960s, settling predominantly in Montreal and other parts of Quebec. Though their reasons for leaving Haiti were manifold, their choice to settle in Quebec is mainly due to their fluency in French. The...

" or "Ghanaian Canadian" are also used. As of , however, there is no widely-used alternative to "Black Canadian" that is accepted by the Afro-Caribbean population, those of more recent African extraction, and descendants of immigrants from the United States as an umbrella term
Umbrella term
An umbrella term is a word that provides a superset or grouping of concepts that all fall under a single common category. Umbrella term is also called a hypernym. For example, cryptology is an umbrella term that encompasses cryptography and cryptanalysis, among other fields...

 for the whole group.

One increasingly common practice, seen in academic usage and in the names and mission statements of some Black Canadian cultural and social organizaions but not yet in universal nationwide usage, is to always make reference to both the African and Caribbean communities. For example, one key health organization dedicated to HIV
HIV
Human immunodeficiency virus is a lentivirus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome , a condition in humans in which progressive failure of the immune system allows life-threatening opportunistic infections and cancers to thrive...

/AIDS
AIDS
Acquired immune deficiency syndrome or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome is a disease of the human immune system caused by the human immunodeficiency virus...

 education and prevention in the Black Canadian community is now named the African and Caribbean Council on HIV/AIDS in Ontario, the Toronto publication Pride bills itself as an "African-Canadian and Caribbean-Canadian news magazine", and a Black-oriented community radio station in Toronto is branded as Caribbean African Radio Network
CKFG-FM
CKFG-FM is a new radio station which broadcasts an Urban Adult Contemporary format on the frequency 98.7 MHz in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.The station will be targeted to the local Caribbean and African communities and began broadcasting on October 3, 2011....

.

History


One of the more noted aspects of Black Canadian history is that while the majority of African Americans trace their presence in the United States through the history of slavery, the Black presence in Canada is rooted almost entirely in voluntary immigration. Despite the various dynamics that may complicate the personal and cultural interrelationships between descendents of the Black Loyalist
Black Loyalist
A Black Loyalist was an inhabitant of British America of African descent who joined British colonial forces during the American Revolutionary War...

s in Nova Scotia, descendents of former American slaves who viewed Canada as the promise of freedom at the end of the Underground Railroad
Underground Railroad
The Underground Railroad was an informal network of secret routes and safe houses used by 19th-century black slaves in the United States to escape to free states and Canada with the aid of abolitionists and allies who were sympathetic to their cause. The term is also applied to the abolitionists,...

, and more recent immigrants from the United States, the Caribbean or Africa, one common element that unites all of these groups is that they're in Canada because they or their ancestors actively chose of their own free will to settle there.

First black people in Canada



The first recorded black person to set foot on land now known as Canada was a free man named Mathieu de Costa
Mathieu de Costa
Mathieu de Costa is the first recorded black person in Canada. He was a member of the exploring party of Pierre Dugua, the Sieur de Monts and Samuel de Champlain in the early 17th century....

, who travelled with explorer Samuel de Champlain
Samuel de Champlain
Samuel de Champlain , "The Father of New France", was a French navigator, cartographer, draughtsman, soldier, explorer, geographer, ethnologist, diplomat, and chronicler. He founded New France and Quebec City on July 3, 1608....

, and arrived in Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces and is the most populous province in Atlantic Canada. The name of the province is Latin for "New Scotland," but "Nova Scotia" is the recognized, English-language name of the province. The provincial capital is Halifax. Nova Scotia is the...

 some time between 1603 and 1608 as a translator for the French explorer Pierre Dugua, Sieur de Monts
Pierre Dugua, Sieur de Monts
Pierre Du Gua de Monts, was a French merchant, explorer and colonizer. A Protestant, he was born in Royan, France and had a great influence over the first two decades of the 17th century...

. The first known black person to live in Canada was a slave from Madagascar
Madagascar
The Republic of Madagascar is an island country located in the Indian Ocean off the southeastern coast of Africa...

 named Olivier Le Jeune
Olivier Le Jeune
Olivier Le Jeune was the first recorded slave purchased in New France.Olivier was a young boy from Madagascar, believed to have been less than eight years of age when he was brought to the outpost of Quebec in New France, by British commander David Kirke when he captured the colony in 1629...

, who may have been of partial Malay ancestry. As a group, black people arrived in Canada in several waves. The first of these came as free persons serving in the French Army
French Army
The French Army, officially the Armée de Terre , is the land-based and largest component of the French Armed Forces.As of 2010, the army employs 123,100 regulars, 18,350 part-time reservists and 7,700 Legionnaires. All soldiers are professionals, following the suspension of conscription, voted in...

 and Navy
French Navy
The French Navy, officially the Marine nationale and often called La Royale is the maritime arm of the French military. It includes a full range of fighting vessels, from patrol boats to a nuclear powered aircraft carrier and 10 nuclear-powered submarines, four of which are capable of launching...

; some were enslaved. Later, some were indentured servant
Indentured servant
Indentured servitude refers to the historical practice of contracting to work for a fixed period of time, typically three to seven years, in exchange for transportation, food, clothing, lodging and other necessities during the term of indenture. Usually the father made the arrangements and signed...

s, as were some white immigrants.

African Americans during the American Revolution


At the time of the American Revolution
American Revolution
The American Revolution was the political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century in which thirteen colonies in North America joined together to break free from the British Empire, combining to become the United States of America...

, inhabitants of the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 had to decide where their future lay. Those loyal to the British Crown were called United Empire Loyalists
United Empire Loyalists
The name United Empire Loyalists is an honorific given after the fact to those American Loyalists who resettled in British North America and other British Colonies as an act of fealty to King George III after the British defeat in the American Revolutionary War and prior to the Treaty of Paris...

, and came north. White American
White American
White Americans are people of the United States who are considered or consider themselves White. The United States Census Bureau defines White people as those "having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa...

 Loyalists brought their African American slaves with them, while formerly enslaved Black Americans, about 10% of the total, also made their way to the colonies of British North America
British North America
British North America is a historical term. It consisted of the colonies and territories of the British Empire in continental North America after the end of the American Revolutionary War and the recognition of American independence in 1783.At the start of the Revolutionary War in 1775 the British...

, settling predominantly in Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces and is the most populous province in Atlantic Canada. The name of the province is Latin for "New Scotland," but "Nova Scotia" is the recognized, English-language name of the province. The provincial capital is Halifax. Nova Scotia is the...

. This latter group was largely made up of tradespeople and labourers, and many set up home in Birchtown near Shelburne
Shelburne, Nova Scotia
Shelburne is a town located in southwestern Nova Scotia, Canada. It is the shire town of Shelburne County.-History:-Settlers:...

. Some settled in New Brunswick
New Brunswick
New Brunswick is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces and is the only province in the federation that is constitutionally bilingual . The provincial capital is Fredericton and Saint John is the most populous city. Greater Moncton is the largest Census Metropolitan Area...

, where they received discriminatory treatment; prominent leaders there held slaves. Many of the Black Loyalists were free people of color who had never been slaves, but relied on British promises of equality. They too had to leave the United States after the Revolution, and settled in Nova Scotia. The charter
Charter
A charter is the grant of authority or rights, stating that the granter formally recognizes the prerogative of the recipient to exercise the rights specified...

 of the city of Saint John
Saint John, New Brunswick
City of Saint John , or commonly Saint John, is the largest city in the province of New Brunswick, and the first incorporated city in Canada. The city is situated along the north shore of the Bay of Fundy at the mouth of the Saint John River. In 2006 the city proper had a population of 74,043...

 was amended in 1785 specifically to exclude blacks from practising a trade, selling goods, fishing in the harbour, or becoming freemen; these provisions stood until 1870.

In 1782, the first race riot
Race riot
A race riot or racial riot is an outbreak of violent civil disorder in which race is a key factor. A phenomenon frequently confused with the concept of 'race riot' is sectarian violence, which involves public mass violence or conflict over non-racial factors.-United States:The term had entered the...

 in North America took place in Shelburne
Shelburne, Nova Scotia
Shelburne is a town located in southwestern Nova Scotia, Canada. It is the shire town of Shelburne County.-History:-Settlers:...

 with white soldiers attacking the African American settlers who were getting work that the soldiers thought they should have. Due to the unkept promises of the British government and discrimination on the part of white colonists, 1,192 African American men, women and children left Nova Scotia for West Africa
West Africa
West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of the African continent. Geopolitically, the UN definition of Western Africa includes the following 16 countries and an area of approximately 5 million square km:-Flags of West Africa:...

 on January 15, 1792 and settled in what is now Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone , officially the Republic of Sierra Leone, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Guinea to the north and east, Liberia to the southeast, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west and southwest. Sierra Leone covers a total area of and has an estimated population between 5.4 and 6.4...

, where they became the original settlers of Freetown
Freetown
Freetown is the capital and largest city of Sierra Leone, a country in West Africa. It is a major port city on the Atlantic Ocean located in the Western Area of the country, and had a city proper population of 772,873 at the 2004 census. The city is the economic, financial, and cultural center of...

. They, along with other groups of free transplanted people such as the Black Poor
Committee for the Relief of the Black Poor
The Committee for the Relief of the Black Poor was a charitable organization founded in London in 1786 to provide sustenance for distressed people of African and Asian origin...

 from England, became what is now the Sierra Leone Creole people, also known as the Krio.

Maroons from the Caribbean


In 1796, a group of fiercely independent rebels known as the Trelawney Maroons were moved from Jamaica
Jamaica
Jamaica is an island nation of the Greater Antilles, in length, up to in width and 10,990 square kilometres in area. It is situated in the Caribbean Sea, about south of Cuba, and west of Hispaniola, the island harbouring the nation-states Haiti and the Dominican Republic...

 to Nova Scotia, following their long battle against colonization. While there, these Jamaican Maroons
Jamaican Maroons
The 'Jamaican Maroons are descended from slaves who escaped from slavery and established free communities in the mountainous interior of Jamaica during the long era of slavery in the island. African slaves imported during the Spanish period may have provided the first runaways, apparently mixing...

 deterred an attack by Napoleon and constructed parts of the Halifax Citadel
Halifax Citadel
Halifax Citadel is a provincial electoral district in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, that elects one member of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly.Its current Member of the Legislative Assembly is Leonard Preyra of the Nova Scotia New Democratic Party....

 and all of Government House. After only a few winters, the British government decided it would be cheaper to send them to Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone , officially the Republic of Sierra Leone, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Guinea to the north and east, Liberia to the southeast, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west and southwest. Sierra Leone covers a total area of and has an estimated population between 5.4 and 6.4...

 than to try to persuade them to farm in a cold country. Upon their arrival in West Africa
West Africa
West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of the African continent. Geopolitically, the UN definition of Western Africa includes the following 16 countries and an area of approximately 5 million square km:-Flags of West Africa:...

 in 1800, they were used to quell an uprising among the previous settlers mentioned above, who after eight years were unhappy with their treatment by the Sierra Leone Company
Sierra Leone Company
The Sierra Leone Company was the corporate body involved in founding the second British colony in Africa in 1792 through the resettlement of black American ex-slaves who had initially been settled in Nova Scotia after the American Revolutionary War...

.

The abolition of slavery



The Canadian climate made it uneconomic to keep slaves year-round, unlike the plantation
Plantation
A plantation is a long artificially established forest, farm or estate, where crops are grown for sale, often in distant markets rather than for local on-site consumption...

 agriculture practised in the southern United States
Southern United States
The Southern United States—commonly referred to as the American South, Dixie, or simply the South—constitutes a large distinctive area in the southeastern and south-central United States...

 and Caribbean
Caribbean
The Caribbean is a crescent-shaped group of islands more than 2,000 miles long separating the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, to the west and south, from the Atlantic Ocean, to the east and north...

, and slavery within the colonial economy became increasingly rare. Not all owners were white. For example, the powerful Mohawk
Mohawk nation
Mohawk are the most easterly tribe of the Iroquois confederation. They call themselves Kanien'gehaga, people of the place of the flint...

 leader Joseph Brant
Joseph Brant
Thayendanegea or Joseph Brant was a Mohawk military and political leader, based in present-day New York, who was closely associated with Great Britain during and after the American Revolution. He was perhaps the most well-known American Indian of his generation...

 bought an African American named Sophia Burthen Pooley, whom he kept for about 12 years before selling her for $100. In 1793 John Graves Simcoe
John Graves Simcoe
John Graves Simcoe was a British army officer and the first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada from 1791–1796. Then frontier, this was modern-day southern Ontario and the watersheds of Georgian Bay and Lake Superior...

, the first Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada
Upper Canada
The Province of Upper Canada was a political division in British Canada established in 1791 by the British Empire to govern the central third of the lands in British North America and to accommodate Loyalist refugees from the United States of America after the American Revolution...

, attempted to abolish slavery. That same year, the new Legislative Assembly there became the first entity in the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

 to restrict slavery, confirming existing ownership but allowing for anyone born to a female slave after that date to be freed at the age of 25. Slavery was all but abolished throughout the other British North America
British North America
British North America is a historical term. It consisted of the colonies and territories of the British Empire in continental North America after the end of the American Revolutionary War and the recognition of American independence in 1783.At the start of the Revolutionary War in 1775 the British...

n colonies by 1800, and was illegal throughout the British Empire by 1834. This made Canada an attractive destination for those fleeing slavery in the United States, such as minister Boston King
Boston King
Boston King was a former American slave and Black Loyalist, who gained freedom from the British and settled in Nova Scotia after the American Revolutionary War...

. Furthermore, on March 24, 1837, black men in Canada were given the right to vote.

The Anti-Slavery Society of Canada estimated in its first report in 1852 that the "colored population of Upper Canada" was about 30,000, of whom almost all adults were "fugitive slaves".
St. Catharines had a population of 6,000 at that time; 800 of them were "of African descent".

War of 1812


The next major migration of blacks occurred between 1813 and 1815. Refugees from the War of 1812
War of 1812
The War of 1812 was a military conflict fought between the forces of the United States of America and those of the British Empire. The Americans declared war in 1812 for several reasons, including trade restrictions because of Britain's ongoing war with France, impressment of American merchant...

 fled the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 to settle in Hammonds Plains, Beechville, Lucasville
Lucasville
Lucasville can refer to:* Lucasville, Ohio* Lucasville, Ontario* Lucasville, Nova Scotia...

, North Preston
North Preston, Nova Scotia
North Preston is a rural community in eastern Halifax Regional Municipality, Nova Scotia, in Canada. North Preston has a population of about 3,700 people. The community is populated mainly by African Canadians. The community borders its sister community East Preston. The community traces its...

, East Preston
East Preston, Nova Scotia
East Preston is an expansive rural area located in eastern Halifax Regional Municipality, Nova Scotia, in Atlantic Canada.East Preston was founded in the 19th century. It is believed to have been named after Preston, Lancashire, England or Thomas Preston, a British army officer involved in the...

, and Africville. A Black Loyalist named Richard Pierpoint, who was born about 1744 in Senegal and who had settled near present-day St. Catharines, Ontario
Ontario
Ontario is a province of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province and second largest in total area. It is home to the nation's most populous city, Toronto, and the nation's capital, Ottawa....

, offered to organize a Corps of Men of Colour; this was refused but a white officer raised a small black corps. This "Coloured Corps" fought at Queenston Heights
Queenston Heights
thumb|Brock's Monument|250px|Brock's Monument at Queenston HeightsThe Queenston Heights is a geographical feature of the Niagara Escarpment immediately above the village of Queenston, Ontario, Canada. Its geography is a promontory formed where the escarpment is divided by the Niagara River...

 and the siege of Fort George
Fort George, Ontario
Fort George National Historic Site is a historic military structure at Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, that was the scene of several battles during the War of 1812...

, defending what would become Canada from the invading American army.

The Underground Railroad


There is a sizable community of Black Canadians in Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces and is the most populous province in Atlantic Canada. The name of the province is Latin for "New Scotland," but "Nova Scotia" is the recognized, English-language name of the province. The provincial capital is Halifax. Nova Scotia is the...

 and Southern Ontario
Southern Ontario
Southern Ontario is a region of the province of Ontario, Canada that lies south of the French River and Algonquin Park. Depending on the inclusion of the Parry Sound and Muskoka districts, its surface area would cover between 14 to 15% of the province. It is the southernmost region of...

 who trace their ancestry to African American slaves who used the Underground Railroad
Underground Railroad
The Underground Railroad was an informal network of secret routes and safe houses used by 19th-century black slaves in the United States to escape to free states and Canada with the aid of abolitionists and allies who were sympathetic to their cause. The term is also applied to the abolitionists,...

 to flee from the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, seeking refuge and freedom in Canada. From the late 1820s until the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

 began in 1861, the Underground Railroad brought tens of thousands of fugitive slave
Fugitive slave
In the history of slavery in the United States, "fugitive slaves" were slaves who had escaped from their master to travel to a place where slavery was banned or illegal. Many went to northern territories including Pennsylvania and Massachusetts until the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was passed...

s to Canada. While many of these returned to the United States after emancipation
Emancipation
Emancipation means the act of setting an individual or social group free or making equal to citizens in a political society.Emancipation may also refer to:* Emancipation , a champion Australian thoroughbred racehorse foaled in 1979...

, a significant population remained, largely in Southern Ontario, widely scattered in both rural and urban locations, including Toronto.

West Coast


In 1858, James Douglas
James Douglas (Governor)
Sir James Douglas KCB was a company fur-trader and a British colonial governor on Vancouver Island in northwestern North America, particularly in what is now British Columbia. Douglas worked for the North West Company, and later for the Hudson's Bay Company becoming a high-ranking company officer...

, the governor
Governor
A governor is a governing official, usually the executive of a non-sovereign level of government, ranking under the head of state...

 of the British colony of Vancouver Island
Vancouver Island
Vancouver Island is a large island in British Columbia, Canada. It is one of several North American locations named after George Vancouver, the British Royal Navy officer who explored the Pacific Northwest coast of North America between 1791 and 1794...

, replied to an inquiry from a group of blacks in San Francisco about the possibilities of settling in his jurisdiction. Governor Douglas, whose mother had been a Creole
Creole peoples
The term Creole and its cognates in other languages — such as crioulo, criollo, créole, kriolu, criol, kreyol, kreol, kriulo, kriol, krio, etc. — have been applied to people in different countries and epochs, with rather different meanings...

, replied favourably, and, at the outbreak of the Cariboo Gold Rush
Cariboo Gold Rush
The Cariboo Gold Rush was a gold rush in the Canadian province of British Columbia. Although the first gold discovery was made in 1859 at Horsefly Creek, followed by more strikes at Keithley Creek and Antler Horns lake in 1860, the actual rush did not begin until 1861, when these discoveries were...

, several dozen of these African American migrants travelled to Victoria
Victoria, British Columbia
Victoria is the capital city of British Columbia, Canada and is located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island off Canada's Pacific coast. The city has a population of about 78,000 within the metropolitan area of Greater Victoria, which has a population of 360,063, the 15th most populous Canadian...

. Two of them, Peter Lester and Mifflin Gibbs, became successful merchants there, and Gibbs was elected to the City Council in the 1860s.

Immigration restrictions


In the late nineteenth century, there was an unofficial policy of restricting blacks from immigration. The huge influx of immigrants from Europe and the United States in the period before World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 included only very small numbers of black arrivals. This was formalised in 1911 by Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier: "His excellency in Council, in virtue of the provisions of Sub-section (c) of Section 38 of the Immigration Act, is pleased to Order and it is hereby Ordered as follows: For a period of one year from and after the date hereof the landing in Canada shall be and the same is prohibited of any immigrants belonging to the Negro race, which race is deemed unsuitable to the climate and requirements of Canada." (Compare with the White Australia policy
White Australia policy
The White Australia policy comprises various historical policies that intentionally restricted "non-white" immigration to Australia. From origins at Federation in 1901, the polices were progressively dismantled between 1949-1973....

.)

Early 20th century


The flow between the United States and Canada continued in the twentieth century. A wave of immigration occurred in the 1920s, with blacks from the Caribbean coming to work in the steel mills of Cape Breton
Cape Breton Regional Municipality, Nova Scotia
Cape Breton Regional Municipality often shortened to simply CBRM, is a regional municipality in Nova Scotia's Cape Breton County.According to the 2006 Census of Canada, the population within the Cape Breton Regional Municipality is 102,250...

, replacing those who had come from Alabama
Alabama
Alabama is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and Mississippi to the west. Alabama ranks 30th in total land area and ranks second in the size of its inland...

 in 1899. Some Black Canadians trace their ancestry to people who fled racism in Oklahoma
Oklahoma
Oklahoma is a state located in the South Central region of the United States of America. With an estimated 3,751,351 residents as of the 2010 census and a land area of 68,667 square miles , Oklahoma is the 28th most populous and 20th-largest state...

, Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

, and other American Great Plains
Great Plains
The Great Plains are a broad expanse of flat land, much of it covered in prairie, steppe and grassland, which lies west of the Mississippi River and east of the Rocky Mountains in the United States and Canada. This area covers parts of the U.S...

 states in the early 1900s to move north to Alberta and Saskatchewan
Saskatchewan
Saskatchewan is a prairie province in Canada, which has an area of . Saskatchewan is bordered on the west by Alberta, on the north by the Northwest Territories, on the east by Manitoba, and on the south by the U.S. states of Montana and North Dakota....

. (See for example those buried in the Shiloh Baptist Church cemetery in Saskatchewan.) Many of them encountered racism when they arrived in Canada, which they had regarded as the Promised Land
Promised land
The Promised Land is a term used to describe the land promised or given by God, according to the Hebrew Bible, to the Israelites, the descendants of Jacob. The promise is firstly made to Abraham and then renewed to his son Isaac, and to Isaac's son Jacob , Abraham's grandson...

. Many of Canada's railway porters
Porter (railroad)
A porter is a railway employee assigned to assist passengers aboard a passenger train or to handle their baggage; it may be used particularly to refer to employees assigned to assisting passengers in the sleeping cars....

 came from the U.S. as well, with many coming from the South
Southern United States
The Southern United States—commonly referred to as the American South, Dixie, or simply the South—constitutes a large distinctive area in the southeastern and south-central United States...

, New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 and Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

, and mainly settling in Montreal
Montreal
Montreal is a city in Canada. It is the largest city in the province of Quebec, the second-largest city in Canada and the seventh largest in North America...

, Toronto
Toronto
Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the largest city in Canada. It is located in Southern Ontario on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. A relatively modern city, Toronto's history dates back to the late-18th century, when its land was first purchased by the British monarchy from...

, Winnipeg
Winnipeg
Winnipeg is the capital and largest city of Manitoba, Canada, and is the primary municipality of the Winnipeg Capital Region, with more than half of Manitoba's population. It is located near the longitudinal centre of North America, at the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers .The name...

 and Vancouver
Vancouver
Vancouver is a coastal seaport city on the mainland of British Columbia, Canada. It is the hub of Greater Vancouver, which, with over 2.3 million residents, is the third most populous metropolitan area in the country,...

. A noted cause célèbre in the 1920s was the case of Matthew Bullock
Matthew Bullock
Matthew Bullock was an African American who fled to Canada and became a cause celebre in the early 1920s.Originally from Norlina, North Carolina, Bullock's saga began when his brother Plummer attempted to return 10 cents worth of apples, which he claimed were bad. The store keeper refused the...

 who fled to Canada to avoid a potential lynching in North Carolina and fought extradition.

Late 20th century and early 21st century


The restrictions on immigration remained until 1962, when racial rules were eliminated from the immigration laws. This coincided with the dissolution of the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

 in the Caribbean, and over the next decades several hundred thousand blacks came from that region to Canada. Since then, an increasing number of immigrants from Africa have been coming to Canada, as is also the case in the United States and Europe. This includes large numbers of refugees, but also many skilled workers pursuing better economic conditions. Today's Black Canadians are largely of Caribbean origin, with some of recent African origin, and smaller numbers from Latin American countries.

However, a sizable number of Black Canadians who descended from freed American slaves can still be found in Nova Scotia and parts of Southwestern Ontario
Southwestern Ontario
Southwestern Ontario is a subregion of Southern Ontario in the Canadian province of Ontario, centred on the city of London. It extends north to south from the Bruce Peninsula on Lake Huron to the Lake Erie shoreline, and east to south-west roughly from Guelph to Windsor. The region had a population...

. Some descendants of the freed American black slaves have mixed into the white Canadian community and have mostly lost their ethnic identity. Some of the descendants went back to the United States. Bangor, Maine
Bangor, Maine
Bangor is a city in and the county seat of Penobscot County, Maine, United States, and the major commercial and cultural center for eastern and northern Maine...

, for example, received quite a few Black Canadians from the Maritime provinces.

In 1975, a museum honouring Black Canadians, as well as African Americans, was established in Amherstburg, Ontario
Amherstburg, Ontario
Amherstburg is a Canadian town near the mouth of the Detroit River in Essex County, Ontario. It is approximately south of the U.S...

, entitled the North American Black Historical Museum
North American Black Historical Museum
The Nazrey African Methodist Episcopal Church National Historic Site and North American Black Historical Museum are located in Amherstburg, Ontario, Canada....

. Though closed for several years, it re-opened in 2001. In Atlantic Canada there is the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia
Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia
The Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia is located in Cherrybrook, Nova Scotia near Halifax. The Centre serves as a museum and a library resource center for the African Nova Scotian community and the Black Canadian community as a whole. The organization of the Black Cultural Society was...

, a similar establishment located in Cherrybrook, Nova Scotia
Cherrybrook, Nova Scotia
Cherrybrook is predominantly a Black community located to the north of Trunk 7 between Lake Loon and Lake Major, and just a few miles east of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia....

.

Statistics

  • About 30% of Black Canadians have Jamaican heritage.
    • An additional 32% have heritage elsewhere in the Caribbean or Bermuda.
  • 60% of Black Canadians are under the age of 35.
  • 60% of Black Canadians live in the province of Ontario.
  • 97% of Black Canadians live in urban areas.
  • There are 32,000 more black women than black men in Canada.
  • Compared:
    • Black Canadians 783,795 (2.5% of Canadian population)
    • Black British
      Black British
      Black British is a term used to describe British people of Black African descent, especially those of Afro-Caribbean background. The term has been used from the 1950s to refer to Black people from former British colonies in the West Indies and Africa, who are residents of the United Kingdom and...

      1,464,000 (2.5% of British population)
    • African Australian
      African Australian
      African immigrants to Australia include Australian citizens and residents born in, or with ancestors from Africa. Immigration from Africa to Australia is only a recent phenomenon, with Europe and Asia traditionally being the largest sources of migration to Australia...

      s 160,000 (0.8% of Australian population)
    • African American
      African American
      African Americans are citizens or residents of the United States who have at least partial ancestry from any of the native populations of Sub-Saharan Africa and are the direct descendants of enslaved Africans within the boundaries of the present United States...

      s 39,500,000 (12.4% of American population)
    • Afro-Brazilian
      Afro-Brazilian
      In Brazil, the term "preto" is one of the five categories used by the Brazilian Census, along with "branco" , "pardo" , "amarelo" and "indígena"...

      s 92,690,000 (49.5% of Brazilian population)
    • Afro-Colombian
      Afro-Colombian
      Afro Colombians refers to Colombians of African ancestry, and the great impact they have had on Colombian culture. Notable Afro-Colombians include Colombian scientists like Raul Cuero, writers like Manuel Zapata Olivella and politicians:...

      s 10,500,000 (21% of Colombian population)

Settlements


Although many Black Canadians live in integrated communities, there have also been a number of notable Black communities, both as unique settlements and as Black-dominated neighbourhoods in urban centres.

The most famous and historically documented Black settlement in Canadian history is the community of Africville, a small village in Nova Scotia which was demolished in the 1960s to facilitate the urban expansion of Halifax
City of Halifax
Halifax is a city in Canada, which was the capital of the province of Nova Scotia and shire town of Halifax County. It was the largest city in Atlantic Canada until it was amalgamated into Halifax Regional Municipality in 1996...

. Similarly, the Hogan's Alley neighbourhood in Vancouver
Vancouver
Vancouver is a coastal seaport city on the mainland of British Columbia, Canada. It is the hub of Greater Vancouver, which, with over 2.3 million residents, is the third most populous metropolitan area in the country,...

 was largely demolished in 1970, with only a single small laneway in Strathcona remaining.

The Wilberforce Colony
Wilberforce Colony
Wilberforce Colony was a colony established by free American Black citizens, founded at the end of the second decade of the 19th century north of present day London, Ontario, Canada. This was one of several movements initially growing from or sympathetic to the American Colonization Society,...

 in Ontario
Ontario
Ontario is a province of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province and second largest in total area. It is home to the nation's most populous city, Toronto, and the nation's capital, Ottawa....

 was also a historically Black settlement, which evolved demographically as Black settlers moved away and eventually became the Irish
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

-dominated village of Lucan. A small group of Black settlers were also the original inhabitants of Saltspring Island
Saltspring Island
Saltspring Island is one of the Gulf Islands in the Strait of Georgia between mainland British Columbia, Canada and Vancouver Island. It is the largest, the most populous, and the most frequently visited of the Gulf Islands...

.

Other notable Black settlements include North Preston
North Preston, Nova Scotia
North Preston is a rural community in eastern Halifax Regional Municipality, Nova Scotia, in Canada. North Preston has a population of about 3,700 people. The community is populated mainly by African Canadians. The community borders its sister community East Preston. The community traces its...

 in Nova Scotia, Priceville
Priceville, Ontario
Priceville is a small village in the southwest corner of the Municipality of Grey Highlands Grey County, Ontario, Canada. Priceville is located on Grey Road 4, east of Durham and southwest of Flesherton...

, Shanty Bay and parts of Chatham-Kent in Ontario such as South Buxton
South Buxton, Ontario
South Buxton is an unincorporated community in Chatham-Kent, Ontario, Canada. The population is approximately 78. The majority of the population is retirees. South Buxton has only two roads and a single church. It is near the South Buxton raceway...

 and Dresden
Dresden, Ontario
Dresden is a community in southwestern Ontario, Canada, part of the municipality of Chatham-Kent. Dresden is best known as the home of Josiah Henson, the former U.S. slave whose life story was the inspiration for the novel Uncle Tom's Cabin...

, the Maidstone
Maidstone, Saskatchewan
-Transportation:The community is served by Maidstone Aerodrome which is located northwest.-External links:...

/Eldon
Eldon No. 471, Saskatchewan
Eldon No. 471, Saskatchewan, is a rural municipality of 1,473 rural residents in the northwestern part of Saskatchewan, Canada. Local Improvement District 24-5-3 was formed April 26, 1907. The RM of Eldon No. 471 was incorporated December 9, 1909...

 area in Saskatchewan and Amber Valley
Amber Valley, Alberta
Amber Valley is an unincorporated community in Alberta, Canada, about 100 miles north of the capital Edmonton. Its elevation is 1,995 ft. Originally named Pine Creek, Amber Valley was among several Alberta communities settled by early black immigrants to the province. Location of Obadiah Place...

 in Alberta. North Preston currently has the highest concentration of Black Canadians in Canada, many of whom are descendants of Africville residents.

One of the most famous Black-dominated urban neighbourhoods in Canada is Montreal
Montreal
Montreal is a city in Canada. It is the largest city in the province of Quebec, the second-largest city in Canada and the seventh largest in North America...

's Little Burgundy
Little Burgundy
Little Burgundy is the informal name of a neighbourhood in the Sud-Ouest borough of the city of Montreal, Quebec, Canada.-Geography:...

, regarded as the spiritual home of Canadian jazz
Jazz
Jazz is a musical style that originated at the beginning of the 20th century in African American communities in the Southern United States. It was born out of a mix of African and European music traditions. From its early development until the present, jazz has incorporated music from 19th and 20th...

 due to its association with many of Canada's most influential early jazz musicians. In Toronto
Toronto
Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the largest city in Canada. It is located in Southern Ontario on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. A relatively modern city, Toronto's history dates back to the late-18th century, when its land was first purchased by the British monarchy from...

, many Blacks settled in St. John's Ward, a district which was located in the city's core. Others preferred to live in York Township
York, Ontario
York is a dissolved municipality in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Geographically, it is located northwest of Old Toronto, southwest of North York and east of Etobicoke, where it is bounded by the Humber River. Formerly a separate city, it was one of six municipalities that amalgamated in 1998 to form...

, on the outskirts of the city. By 1850, there were more than a dozen Black businesses along King Street.

Several urban neighbourhoods in Toronto, including Jane and Finch
Jane and Finch
Jane and Finch is a neighbourhood located in northwestern North York, a district of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The area is roughly bounded by Highway 400 to the west, Driftwood Avenue to the east, Grandravine Drive to the south, and Shoreham Drive to the north...

, Rexdale
Rexdale
Rexdale is a neighbourhood located in the north-west corner of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It covers the northern section of Etobicoke, which was an independent city until it merged with five other municipalities and a regional government to form the new City of Toronto in 1998. Rexdale was named...

, Malvern
Malvern, Toronto
Malvern is a neighbourhood in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, with a population of 44,315. It is located in the northeast corner of the city, in the district of Scarborough. Scarborough was merged with five other municipalities and a regional government to form the new City of Toronto in 1998...

, St. James Town, and Lawrence Heights
Lawrence Heights
Lawrence Heights is a neighbourhood in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is located north-west of central Toronto, in the district of North York. The neighbourhood is bounded by Lawrence Avenue to the south, Highway 401 to the north, Allen Road to the east and Dufferin Street to the west...

, are popularly associated with Black Canadians, although all are much more racially diverse than is commonly believed. The Toronto suburbs of Brampton
Brampton
Brampton is the third-largest city in the Greater Toronto Area of Ontario, Canada.Brampton may also refer to:- Canada :* Brampton, a city in Ontario** Brampton GO Station, a station in the GO Transit network located in the city- United Kingdom :...

 and Ajax
Ajax, Ontario
Ajax is a town in the Durham Region in the Greater Toronto Area.The town is named for the HMS Ajax a Royal Navy cruiser that served in World War II. Ajax is a part of the Greater Toronto Area and the...

 also have sizeable black populations, which have migrated outward from Toronto over the last five to seven years. The Toronto area is home to a highly educated middle to upper middle class black population who continue to migrate out of the city limits into surrounding suburbs throughout the Greater Toronto Area
Greater Toronto Area
The Greater Toronto Area is the largest metropolitan area in Canada, with a 2006 census population of 5.5 million. The Greater Toronto Area is usually defined as the central city of Toronto, along with four regional municipalities surrounding it: Durham, Halton, Peel, and York...

.

Below is a list of provinces by the number of Black Canadians in each province with percentages.
Province
Provinces and territories of Canada
The provinces and territories of Canada combine to make up the world's second-largest country by area. There are ten provinces and three territories...

Blacks by number Blacks by %
Ontario
Ontario
Ontario is a province of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province and second largest in total area. It is home to the nation's most populous city, Toronto, and the nation's capital, Ottawa....

473,765 3.9%
Quebec
Quebec
Quebec or is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level....

188,070 2.5%
Alberta
Alberta
Alberta is a province of Canada. It had an estimated population of 3.7 million in 2010 making it the most populous of Canada's three prairie provinces...

47,075 1.4%
British Columbia
British Columbia
British Columbia is the westernmost of Canada's provinces and is known for its natural beauty, as reflected in its Latin motto, Splendor sine occasu . Its name was chosen by Queen Victoria in 1858...

28,315 0.7%
Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces and is the most populous province in Atlantic Canada. The name of the province is Latin for "New Scotland," but "Nova Scotia" is the recognized, English-language name of the province. The provincial capital is Halifax. Nova Scotia is the...

19,230 2.1%
Manitoba
Manitoba
Manitoba is a Canadian prairie province with an area of . The province has over 110,000 lakes and has a largely continental climate because of its flat topography. Agriculture, mostly concentrated in the fertile southern and western parts of the province, is vital to the province's economy; other...

15,660 1.4%
Saskatchewan
Saskatchewan
Saskatchewan is a prairie province in Canada, which has an area of . Saskatchewan is bordered on the west by Alberta, on the north by the Northwest Territories, on the east by Manitoba, and on the south by the U.S. states of Montana and North Dakota....

5,090 0.5%
New Brunswick
New Brunswick
New Brunswick is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces and is the only province in the federation that is constitutionally bilingual . The provincial capital is Fredericton and Saint John is the most populous city. Greater Moncton is the largest Census Metropolitan Area...

4,455 0.6%
Newfoundland and Labrador
Newfoundland and Labrador
Newfoundland and Labrador is the easternmost province of Canada. Situated in the country's Atlantic region, it incorporates the island of Newfoundland and mainland Labrador with a combined area of . As of April 2011, the province's estimated population is 508,400...

905 0.2%
Prince Edward Island
Prince Edward Island
Prince Edward Island is a Canadian province consisting of an island of the same name, as well as other islands. The maritime province is the smallest in the nation in both land area and population...

640 0.5%
Northwest Territories
Northwest Territories
The Northwest Territories is a federal territory of Canada.Located in northern Canada, the territory borders Canada's two other territories, Yukon to the west and Nunavut to the east, and three provinces: British Columbia to the southwest, and Alberta and Saskatchewan to the south...

375 0.9%
Yukon
Yukon
Yukon is the westernmost and smallest of Canada's three federal territories. It was named after the Yukon River. The word Yukon means "Great River" in Gwich’in....

125 0.4%
Nunavut
Nunavut
Nunavut is the largest and newest federal territory of Canada; it was separated officially from the Northwest Territories on April 1, 1999, via the Nunavut Act and the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement Act, though the actual boundaries had been established in 1993...

100 0.3%
Canada 783,795 2.5%

Culture


Media representation of Blacks in Canada has increased significantly in recent years, with television series such as Drop the Beat
Drop the Beat
Drop the Beat was a Canadian television series produced by Back Alley Films, which aired on CBC Television in 2000. A short run dramatic series, the show was one of the first television series ever built around hip hop music and culture....

, Lord Have Mercy! and Da Kink in My Hair
Da Kink in My Hair (TV series)
'da Kink in My Hair is a Canadian television sitcom. Based on the play of the same name by Trey Anthony, the story was adapted into a television show currently airing on Global.-Cast:...

focusing principally on Black characters and communities.

The films of Clement Virgo
Clement Virgo
Clément Virgo is a Canadian filmmaker of international acclaim. His latest feature, the boxing drama Poor Boy's Game, stars Danny Glover and Rossif Sutherland...

, Sudz Sutherland
Sudz Sutherland
David "Sudz" Sutherland is a Canadian film director and screenwriter. His credits include the films Doomstown, Love, Sex and Eating the Bones and Guns, as well as episodes of Da Kink in My Hair, Degrassi: The Next Generation, Wild Roses and Jozi-H...

 and Charles Officer
Charles Officer
Charles Officer is a Jamaican-Canadian writer, actor, director and former professional hockey player in the United States.-Director:Officer’s directorial debut, When Morning Comes, premiered at the 2000 Toronto International Film Festival...

 have been among the most prominent depictions of Black Canadians on the big screen. Notable films have included Sutherland's Love, Sex and Eating the Bones
Love, Sex and Eating the Bones
Love, Sex and Eating the Bones is a 2003 Canadian romantic comedy film directed and written by Sudz Sutherland featuring a mostly African American leading cast...

, Officer's Nurse.Fighter.Boy
Nurse.Fighter.Boy
Nurse.Fighter.Boy is a Canadian drama film, originally released in 2008.The film stars Karen LeBlanc as Jude, a widowed single mother undergoing treatment for sickle cell disease. While working as a night-shift nurse to support her son Ciel Nurse.Fighter.Boy is a Canadian drama film, originally...

and Virgo's Rude
Rude (film)
Rude is a 1995 Canadian crime film directed by Clement Virgo. It was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival.-Cast:* Maurice Dean Wint - General* Rachael Crawford - Maxine* Clark Johnson - Reece...

.

In literature, the most prominent and famous Black Canadian writers have been Josiah Henson
Josiah Henson
Josiah Henson was an author, abolitionist, and minister. Born into slavery in Charles County, Maryland, he escaped to Ontario, Canada in 1830, and founded a settlement and laborer's school for other fugitive slaves at Dawn, near Dresden in Kent County...

, George Elliott Clarke
George Elliott Clarke
George Elliott Clarke, OC is a Canadian poet and playwright. His work largely explores and chronicles the experience and history of the Black Canadian community of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, creating a cultural geography that Clarke refers to as "Africadia".-Life:Born to William and Geraldine...

, Austin Clarke
Austin Clarke
Austin Ardinel Chesterfield Clarke, is a Canadian novelist, essayist and short story writer who lives in Toronto, Ontario. Born in St...

, Lawrence Hill
Lawrence Hill
Lawrence Hill is an award-winning Canadian novelist and memoirist. He is best known for the 2001 memoir Black Berry, Sweet Juice: On Being Black and White in Canada and the 2007 novel The Book of Negroes....

, Dionne Brand
Dionne Brand
Dionne Brand is a Canadian poet, novelist, essayist and documentarian. She was named Toronto's third Poet Laureate in September 2009.-Biography:...

 and Dany Laferrière
Dany Laferrière
Dany Laferrière is a francophone Haitian and Canadian novelist and journalist.Born in Port-au-Prince, Haïti, and raised in Petit Goâve, Laferrière worked as a journalist in Haïti before moving to Canada in 1976...

, although numerous emerging writers have gained attention in the 1990s and 2000s.

The largest and most famous Black Canadian cultural event is the Scotiabank Toronto Caribbean Carnival (formerly known as Caribana), an annual festival of Caribbean Canadian culture in Toronto which typically attracts at least a million participants each year. The festival incorporates the diversities that exist among the Canadians of African and Caribbean descent. This fusion has made it one of the most electrifying events in North America, resulting in a lot of celebrities enjoying the city the the multitude of festivities. Toronto's Afro Festival continues to grow and reach new heights year after year.

Black Canadians have had a major influence on Canadian music
Music of Canada
The music of Canada has influences that have shaped the country. Aboriginals, the British, and the French have all made unique contributions to the musical heritage of Canada. The music has subsequently been heavily influenced by American culture because of its proximity and migration between...

, helping pioneer many genres including Canadian hip hop
Canadian hip hop
The Canadian hip hop scene was first established in the 1980s. Through a variety of factors, it developed much more slowly than Canada's popular rock music scene, and apart from a short-lived burst of mainstream popularity from 1989 to 1991, it remained largely an underground phenomenon until the...

, Canadian blues
Canadian blues
Canadian blues refers to the blues and blues-related music performed by blues bands and performers in Canada. In Canada, there are hundreds of local and regionally-based Canadian blues bands and performers. As well, there is a smaller number of bands or performers that have achieved national or...

, Canadian jazz
Canadian jazz
Canadian jazz refers to the jazz and jazz-related music performed by jazz bands and performers in Canada. In Canada, there are hundreds of local and regionally-based Canadian jazz bands and performers...

, R&B
Contemporary R&B
Contemporary R&B is a music genre that combines elements of hip hop, soul, R&B and funk.Although the abbreviation “R&B” originates from traditional rhythm and blues music, today the term R&B is most often used to describe a style of African American music originating after the demise of disco in...

, pop music
Pop music
Pop music is usually understood to be commercially recorded music, often oriented toward a youth market, usually consisting of relatively short, simple songs utilizing technological innovations to produce new variations on existing themes.- Definitions :David Hatch and Stephen Millward define pop...

 and classical music
Classical music
Classical music is the art music produced in, or rooted in, the traditions of Western liturgical and secular music, encompassing a broad period from roughly the 11th century to present times...

. The large influx of immigration in the 1990s gave rise to Caribbean music in Canada
Caribbean music in Canada
Caribbean music in Canada has developed significantly since the year 2000, particularly in the genres Soca and Calypso. Recent changes in Canada's immigration laws have seen several prominent musicians from the Commonwealth Caribbean like David Rudder and Anslem Douglas resettle in Canada and help...

. Some of the earliest musical influences include Robert Nathaniel Dett
Robert Nathaniel Dett
Robert Nathaniel Dett , often known as R. Nathaniel Dett, was a composer in the United States and Canada...

, Portia White
Portia White
Portia May White , was a singer who achieved international fame because of her voice and stage presence. As a Black Canadian, her popularity helped to open previously closed doors for talented blacks who followed....

, Oscar Peterson
Oscar Peterson
Oscar Emmanuel Peterson was a Canadian jazz pianist and composer. He was called the "Maharaja of the keyboard" by Duke Ellington, "O.P." by his friends. He released over 200 recordings, won seven Grammy Awards, and received other numerous awards and honours over the course of his career...

 and Charlie Biddle
Charlie Biddle
Charlie Biddle, otherwise known as Charles Reed Biddle was a Canadian jazz bassist.-Biography:...

. Some Black Canadian musicians have enjoyed mainstream worldwide appeal in various genres such as Dan Hill
Dan Hill
Daniel Grafton "Dan" Hill IV is a Canadian pop singer and songwriter. He had two major hits with his songs, "Sometimes When We Touch" and "Can't We Try," a duet with Vonda Shepard.-Early life and career:...

, Drake
Drake (entertainer)
Aubrey Drake Graham , who records under the mononym Drake, is a Canadian recording artist and actor. He originally became known for playing Jimmy Brooks on the television series Degrassi: The Next Generation....

, Glenn Lewis
Glenn Lewis
Glenn Lewis is a Canadian R&B and neo soul singer-songwriter. Originally planning to pursue a career in animation as a teenager, Lewis instead decided to focus on music. His father was a member of the musical group Crack of Dawn...

, Deborah Cox
Deborah Cox
Deborah Cox is a Canadian R&B singer-songwriter and actress. Her 1998 song "Nobody's Supposed to Be Here" held the record for longest-running number one single on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart , a record held for nearly eight years. She has achieved ten number-one hits on...

, Melanie Fiona
Melanie Fiona
Melanie Fiona Hallim is a Canadian R&B and Grammy-nominated recording artist from Toronto, Ontario. She was born to Guyanese immigrant parents of African, Indian, and Portuguese descent and grew up in the inner city of Toronto. Living in a music filled household, Fiona says she always knew music...

, Little X
Little X
Julien Christian Lutz , better known as Little X, X or Director X, is a Canadian music video director. He also has his own clothing line X Fit...

, and Kardinal Offishall
Kardinal Offishall
Jason D. Harrow , better known by his stage name Kardinal Offishall , is a Canadian rapper and record producer. He is often credited as Canada's "hip-hop ambassador", and is best known for his distinctive reggae and dancehall-influenced style of hip-hop.-Life and career:Harrow was born in...

.

While African American culture is a significant influence on its Canadian counterpart, many African and Caribbean Canadians reject the suggestion that their own culture is not distinctive. In his first major hit single "BaKardi Slang
BaKardi Slang
"BaKardi Slang" is a hip-hop song by Kardinal Offishall. Produced by Solitair, it was the first single from his second album Quest for Fire: Firestarter, Vol. 1. The single was released in Canada in 2000, before being re-released in the U.S. the following year...

", rapper Kardinal Offishall
Kardinal Offishall
Jason D. Harrow , better known by his stage name Kardinal Offishall , is a Canadian rapper and record producer. He is often credited as Canada's "hip-hop ambassador", and is best known for his distinctive reggae and dancehall-influenced style of hip-hop.-Life and career:Harrow was born in...

 performed a lyric about Toronto's distinctive Black Canadian slang
Slang
Slang is the use of informal words and expressions that are not considered standard in the speaker's language or dialect but are considered more acceptable when used socially. Slang is often to be found in areas of the lexicon that refer to things considered taboo...

:

Because the visibility of distinctively Black Canadian cultural output is still a relatively recent phenomenon, academic, critical and sociological analysis of Black Canadian literature, music, television and film tends to focus on the ways in which cultural creators are actively engaging the process of creating a cultural space for themselves which is distinct from both mainstream Canadian culture and African American culture. For example, virtually all of the Black-themed television series which have been produced in Canada to date have been ensemble cast
Ensemble cast
An ensemble cast is made up of cast members in which the principal actors and performers are assigned roughly equal amounts of importance and screen time in a dramatic production. This kind of casting became more popular in television series because it allows flexibility for writers to focus on...

 comedy or drama series centred around the creation and/or expansion of a Black-oriented cultural or community institution.

Racism


According to Statistics Canada
Statistics Canada
Statistics Canada is the Canadian federal government agency commissioned with producing statistics to help better understand Canada, its population, resources, economy, society, and culture. Its headquarters is in Ottawa....

's Ethnic Diversity Survey, released in September 2003, when asked about the five year period from 1998 to 2002 nearly one-third (32%) of respondents who identified as black reported that they had been subjected to some form of racial discrimination or unfair treatment 'sometimes' or 'often'.

Throughout the years, many high profile cases of racism against Black Canadians have occurred in Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces and is the most populous province in Atlantic Canada. The name of the province is Latin for "New Scotland," but "Nova Scotia" is the recognized, English-language name of the province. The provincial capital is Halifax. Nova Scotia is the...

 giving it the title of "The Mississippi
Mississippi
Mississippi is a U.S. state located in the Southern United States. Jackson is the state capital and largest city. The name of the state derives from the Mississippi River, which flows along its western boundary, whose name comes from the Ojibwe word misi-ziibi...

 of the North". The province in Atlantic Canada continues to battle racism with an annual march to end racism against people of African descent.

General

  • List of Black Canadians
  • African diaspora
    African diaspora
    The African diaspora was the movement of Africans and their descendants to places throughout the world—predominantly to the Americas also to Europe, the Middle East and other places around the globe...

  • African-Canadian Heritage Tour
  • List of topics related to Black and African people
  • Slavery in Canada
    Slavery in Canada
    Slavery in what now comprises Canada existed into the 1830s, when slavery was officially abolished. Some slaves were of African descent, while others were aboriginal . Slavery which was practiced within Canada's current geography, was practiced primarily by Aboriginal groups...

  • North American Black Historical Museum
    North American Black Historical Museum
    The Nazrey African Methodist Episcopal Church National Historic Site and North American Black Historical Museum are located in Amherstburg, Ontario, Canada....

  • Demographics of Canada
    Demographics of Canada
    This article about the demographic features of the population of Canada, including population density, ethnicity, education level, health of the populace, economic status, religious affiliations and other aspects of the population, the People of Canada....


Sub-groups by country of origin

  • Jamaican Canadian
    Jamaican Canadian
    Jamaican Canadians are Canadians of Jamaican descent, or Jamaican-born people with Canadian citizenship. The population, according to Canada's 2006 Census, is 231,110. Jamaican Canadians comprise about 30% of the entire black Canadian population.-History:...

  • Haitian Canadians
    Haïtian Canadians
    Citizens from the Francophone Caribbean island nation of Haiti began immigrating to Canada in the 1960s, settling predominantly in Montreal and other parts of Quebec. Though their reasons for leaving Haiti were manifold, their choice to settle in Quebec is mainly due to their fluency in French. The...

  • Canadians of Trinidad and Tobago origin
  • Canadians of Barbadian origin
  • Canadians of Guyanese descent
  • Nigerian Canadians
    Nigerian Canadians
    Nigerian Canadians are Canadian citizens and residents of Nigerian origin and descent. Nigerians began migrating to Canada during the 1967–1970 Biafra War. Nigerians were not broken out separately in immigration statistics until 1973. 3,919 landed immigrants of Nigerian nationality arrived in...

  • Latin American Canadian
  • Cape Verdean Canadian
    Cape Verdean Canadian
    Cape Verdean-Canadians are Canadian residents whose ancestry originated in Cape Verde. Cape Verdean immigration to Canada began in the late 19th century with just a few people. The first Cape Verdean immigrants arrived aboard ships which would pick up passengers in Cape Verde...


External links