Kerbens | 28 Moments of Black Canadian History | Slavery in Canada


(upbeat music) – Hello, everyone. My name is Kerbens Boisette, I’m 20 years old. I am a Haitian-born Canadian. I moved to Canada when I
was about eight years old, and to be very honest with you I never experienced race or
racism when I was in Haiti until I moved to Canada. So, growing up in Canada
was very, very different. Coming from Haiti, everyone
around you is black, so you never really felt out of place. But my first experience
with racism here in Canada was when I was in grade four, and I loved the movie, I loved Jackie Chan as an actor, and I just love karate, everything. So, but kids would call me Blackie Chan, which, to be very honest with you, I never really understood the joke, so I’d play around with them, I’d laugh with them, stuff like that. They’d be like, “Yeah, Blackie Chan! That’s cool, that’s super awesome!” But it’s not until my university days or even my high school days,
my later moments in life that I realized, hey that was racist. But it’s been a passion of mine ever since I was very, very young to create a platform that
can help at-risk children, at-risk communities, and just ensure that there is a better future, a more sustainable future for all of us, and everyone has a chance at getting exactly what they want out of life. So that’s one of my aspirations, and it’s something that
I’m currently building here in Ottawa. My team and I, we’ve hosted an event called the Aftermath Exhibition. We help youth, young artist, you black artists in
particular in the community. We facilitate growth, we help
them grow their artistry, we help them showcase their artistry, and we help them connect with
other artist around the city, and also, this particular event allows us to create a new
narrative for Black people within the community. The question of why is Black
History month important is a question that I kind
of struggled with answering because to be very honest with you, I don’t know too much Canadian history or Canadian Black history. I didn’t know too much until I did a little
bit of research myself, but I feel as though
there’s not as much emphasis on Canadian Black history. So I think it’s a month
that we should take to raise our voices, to
highlight the current issues that are dealing with. So it’s about our current struggles, our past, our history, where we came from, as well as where we’re going. How to fix that issue of systemic racism is a little bit more representation of Black people within the media, switching up the narratives that have been ascribed to Black people. So, whether it be the narratives of Black men being super
violent and being a gangster, and Black women being
hypersexualized in the media, so I think it’s essential to
switch up those narratives and showing the diversity
within Black culture. (pensive music) (somber music) Contrary to popular belief, slavery is a very real
part of Canada’s history. It was officially legalized in 1689, but it existed way before that. Settlers first enslaved
indigenous peoples, but killed them with
their infectious diseases. Settlers were then forced to enslave Black men and Black
women from the Americas and the Caribbean. Colonists really hoped to establish plantations here in Canada, but the weather was too cold, so there’s no plantations happening here. As a result, the economy was
less reliant on slave labor, but to quote Dr. Thornhill,
a notable Canadian lawyer, “Blacks, as chattle property or moveables “became as commonplace “as were the abundant
public advertisements, “posters and notices of which
they were the subjects.” So, yes, there were slaves
auctions here in Canada, frequently, especially
frequent in Nova Scotia. Yes, there were published notices offering rewards for runaway
slaves here in Canada. Yes, newspapers regularly
advertise the sale of slaves. Yes, yes, and yes. The settlements of Quebec
city, Montreal, Halifax, frequently received ships containing enslaved Black men and women. It is important to note that during the height of slavery in Canada, not all Black people were enslaved. But nonetheless, as noted
by author Robin Maynard, slavery was a very real
institution in Canada, that totally devalued Black life, making way for institutionalized racism still present in our system today. For more information, read
the resources found below in the description. (pensive music)

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