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Alternate Timeline. Black-Canadian History 1900-present. By: Gianna Antonacci , Mariusz Janiszewski and Stacy Dunn. Ontario elects first Black Lieutenant-governor. The No. 2 (Negro) Construction Battalion granted official authorization. Proposal passed to demolish Africville.

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Alternate timeline

Alternate Timeline

Black-Canadian History 1900-present

By: GiannaAntonacci, MariuszJaniszewski and Stacy Dunn.


Alternate timeline

Ontario elects first Black Lieutenant-governor

The No. 2 (Negro) Construction Battalion granted official authorization

Proposal passed to demolish Africville

Multiculturalism becomes official government policy

Legislation proposed that excludes ‘any immigrant of the Negro race’ from settling in Canada

Ku Klux Klan march into Oakville, ON.

Ontario Passes Racial Discrimination Act

The 5th Yonge Street Riot

February 28, 1930

January 9, 1964

October 8, 1971

September 1985

June 2, 1911

July 5, 1916

March 14 1944

May 4, 1992

1991

Spring 1928

July 28, 1967

March 10, 1913

September 1975

WWII 1939 - 1944

September 25, 1963

Nova Scotia High School Racial Brawl

Toronto's Caribana Festival Founded

Harriet Tubman Dies

Blacks accepted into Canadian services

Rufus Rockhead opens Rockhead’s Paradise in Montreal

First Black Elected to a Canadian Parliament

Creation of Urban Alliance on Race Relations organization


Alternate timeline

Legislation proposed that excludes ‘any immigrant of the Negro race’ from settling in Canada

In the early 20th Century, immigration policy in western Canada changed to specifically work against African-Americans. A group of financially stable African-Americans, unhappy with how they were being treated in Oklahoma, became interested in immigrating to Canada. There were a few Black Canadians living in western Canada before 1910, but the reaction to the prospect of a large group of African-Americans settling in Canada exposed the fear and racism that existed throughout Canada at this time. Business associations, newspaper editorials, and leading citizens pushed for the border to be closed to this group. On June 2, a proposed law was tabled that would exclude Blacks from settling in Canada for one year. Although it was never passed, the proposed legislation had a direct influence on the immigration policy that followed. Officials adopted an informal process of exclusion whereby African-Americans wanting to enter Canada were often found not suitable for entry after an examination at the border. This system worked to dissuade Blacks from making the decision to move to western Canada. It is an example of an invisible racism – racist attitudes and actions that, although never made official, still persisted in Canada.

Photo: black family from Vulvan, Alberta, 1903. L-R: Master Darby; Herbert Darby; Mrs. Darby; Mrs. Darby’s sister; the three girls in front are the Darby’s daughters. Mr. Darby worked as a cook at a hotel. African-American immigration was not seen as a threat to Canadians until the numbers of African-Americans wanting to emigrate started to rise.

June 2, 1911

GiannaAntonacci


Alternate timeline

Although Harriet Tubman only lived in Canada for eight years (1851-1860), the impact that she had on the country’s history is vast. As a famous “conductor” of the Underground Railroad – a series of safe houses used by enslaved people to escape the enslaved states – Tubman, a former slave herself, helped bring a number of African-Americans into Canada, where the law protected them from slavery. She was a hero and a leader, continuing her work even with a $40,000 reward out for her capture, dead or alive, offered by a group of slave owners. She returned to live the rest of her life in Auburn, New York, but kept ties with individuals and agencies that aided her work in St. Catharines.

March 10, 1913

Photo: A banner that hangs in downtown St. Catharines proclaims Harriet Tubman as one of the town’s outstanding citizens.

Harriet Tubman Dies

GiannaAntonacci


Alternate timeline

The No. 2 (Negro) Construction Battalion granted official authorization

After months of Sam Hughes and other government officials waffling on official policy about Black Canadians enlisting in the Canadian army, and African Canadians themselves getting mixed responses from battalion leaders about whether or not they could serve, on July 5, 1916, the No. 2 (Negro) Construction Battalion, led by white officers, was granted official authorization. Most of the men who joined performed manual labour jobs in Europe throughout the war. There were no reported racial incidents during the war; however, a brawl did break out between Black and white Canadian soldiers during a parade on a base in 1919 as the soldiers were waiting to be brought back to Canada. The No. 2 Construction Battalion marks the first time that a group of African-Canadians would officially fight together for Canada. The circumstances surrounding the creation of the battalion in the first place – such that some white soldiers and battalion leaders did not want to serve with African-Canadian soldiers – and the way they were treated by other white soldiers after the war, clearly shows that Canada did not treat all her sons fighting for the cause in the same way.

July 5, 1916

Photo: The badge of the No. 2 Construction Battalion, an outfit made up African-Canadian volunteers..

GiannaAntonacci


Alternate timeline

Rufus Nathaniel Rockhead came to Canada from Jamaica during the First World War and smuggled rum as a railway porter, eventually saving enough money to buy and open Rockhead’s Paradise in 1928 at the Montreal intersection locals soon began calling “the corner.” With Rockhead’s on one corner, Café St. Michel right across the street and the Terminal Club close by, musicians from Montreal and abroad flocked to Mountain Street and St. Antoine to play “real” jazz. While jazz clubs abounded in Montreal from the 1920s to the 1960s, musicians who were known to play cutting edge jazz, the innovators of the music scene, respected these black clubs as places where real jazz could be played and heard. While a racial divide kept African Canadian and African American musicians from playing in the white clubs across the city, most played on “the corner” nightly, joined by white musicians who were really interested in jazz and would stop by after their gigs across town. The legacy of Montreal’s jazz clubs in the Black district, such as Rockhead’s Paradise, Café St. Michel, and the Terminal Club, and the musicians that played there, helped shape the city’s current reputation as a jazz capital of the world.

Spring, 1928

Photo: Allan Wellman’s band at the popular Rockhead’s Paradise. Many famous artists played at the popular Montreal establishment, such as Billie Holliday and Sarah Vaughan.

Rufus Rockhead opens Rockhead’s Paradise in Montreal

GiannaAntonacci


Alternate timeline

Ku Klux Klan march into Oakville, ON.

The Ku Klux Klan brings to mind images of white-robed men from the southern United States burning crosses and attacking their fellow citizens. They are disturbing images, but not ones usually associated with Canada. However, on February 28, 1930, in Oakville, Ontario, a group of Canadian Ku Klux Klan members marched into town in the middle of the night. They proceeded to burn a cross, creating quite a spectacle, and then physically separate an interracial couple who were visiting family. The group took the white girl away from the house and threatened the black man, along with the family they were visiting, that he would be hurt if he was ever seen with a white girl again. When the Chief of Police, David Kerr, arrived on the scene, he de-cloaked some of the men and recognized many as businessmen from Hamilton. They shook hands and were not stopped. After an investigation was petitioned for by prominent Black community members in Toronto, it was discovered that Ira Johnson, the gentleman harassed by the Klan, was not even African-Canadian, but of mixed Aboriginal heritage, confusing the issue even more. Wide newspaper coverage of the incident seemed to reveal the sentiments of Canadians at the time. The Toronto Globe wrote: “The work the nocturnal visitors did in Oakville in separating a white girl from a colored man may be commendable in itself and prove a benefit, but it is certain that the methods are wrong”; a disturbing statement from a newspaper in one of Canada’s most liberal cities. Some members of the KKK were eventually tried, and one charged with being masked at night. A week after the verdict, Ira Johnson’s house burned to the ground.

February 28, 1930

Photo: A group of Ku Klux Klan members from nearby Owen Sound, Ontario. The group, known for racism and violence and most commonly associated with the southern United States, also existed in Canada..

GiannaAntonacci


Alternate timeline

As the war progressed, the Canadian military eventually accepted Blacks into the Regular Army and officer corps. Hundreds of Black Canadians valiantly served in the war effort, although there was still some segregation within the Canadian forces. After the war, many African-Canadian’s began to fight against various forms of discrimination at home. Their participation in the war effort can be seen as a catalyst that began the active fight for equitable treatment by the Canadian government and by Canadian society in general. After fighting bravely during the war, these men deserved to return to a more equitable lifestyle, with equal opportunities like their fellow white soldiers.

Some examples of men who served:

World War II 1939 - 1944

  • Jessie and Bethune Binga: These two men from Chatham, ON, served in the army during WWII and Bethune received several medals for valour.

  • Alvin Duncan: A black soldier in the Radar Division, a highly secret operation of the Allied Forces during WWII. He was a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force, who was sent to work for the Royal Air Force in Britain as a radar operator. In 1946, he received a certificate of gratitude from the British Secretary of State for his services rendered during the war.

Blacks Accepted into Canadian Services

Stacy Dunn


Alternate timeline

Ontario Passes Racial Discrimination Act

Ontario was the first province to respond to the social change that was happening following the Second World. In 1944, the Racial Discrimination Act was passed within the province, and it banned the use and/or display of any notice, sign or symbol that expressed racial, ethnic or religious discrimination. This act influenced the rest of Canada to enact policies against discrimination. The Racial Discrimination Act was followed by the Saskatchewan’s Bill of Rights in 1947, Ontario’s Fair Employment Practices Act in 1951(also passed nationally in 1953), as well as equal-pay legislation for women throughout the 1950s. The influence of this legislation continued into the 1960s, when the provinces focused more on creating comprehensive human rights commissions to deal with battling issues of discrimination on a more wide-spread level, such as in the workplace and regarding access to accommodation, goods, services and facilities. The Racial Discrimination Act had a significant impact on the African community within Canada because this was the starting point of political change dealing with preventing discrimination.

March 14, 1944

Photo: First page of the Racial Discrimination Act document.

Stacy Dunn


Alternate timeline

Leonard Braithwaite was the first African-Canadian to be elected into provincial legislature in Canada. He was elected as the Liberal member for Etobicoke, ON, and served until 1975. While in office he fought for the rights of minorities and gender equality. He began his political career as a member of the Etobicoke board of education in 1960. His representation of African-Canadian’s is evident in his first speech to the provincial legislature where he spoke out against issues of racial segregation within Ontario schools. AS a result, this influenced the Ontario government to repeal the law revolving school segregation.

September 25, 1963

Photo: Leonard Braithwaite.

First Black Elected to a Canadian Parliament

Stacy Dunn


Alternate timeline

The Rose Report: Proposal passed to demolish Africville

In Halifax, the Rose Report (1964) was passed in favour of relocating the Black residents from Africville, a sub-community of Halifax. The primary focus of this report was to facilitate the relocation and does not pay any mention to what the new living conditions entailed. Prior to the Report being passed, the media called this area an “American-style ghetto”, which encouraged the Halifax City Planning Commissions to expropriate the land. There was much

Photo: The Seaview African Baptist Church.

January 9, 1964

resistance against the proposal because some residents strongly believed in the community’s proud traditions, regardless of the reality that the community lacked access to basic services such as sewage, water, and adequate roads. Since the beginning of this community in the late 1800s, The Seaview African Baptist Church was initially the focus of the community where the church elders were established as the community leaders. However, once residents faced the reality of relocation, this center of community began to falter. During this time, Halifax was experiencing rapid urban growth and the African youth of this community did not want to live in what was quickly being viewed as the “slum” of Halifax.

Stacy Dunn


Alternate timeline

July 28, 1967

With the creation of the Caribbean Centennial Committee (CCC) came the organization of a festival to celebrate the Centennial year in Canada. Within the greater Toronto area resides approximately two-thirds of Canada’s West Indian population. On July 28th, 1967, ten Torontonians with a common West Indian heritage founded the Caribana cultural festival in order to promote cultural pride among Black-Canadians within Ontario and to encourage mutual respect and social unity. Caribana was created in order to celebrate and share Caribbean, African and Black culture: arts, food, music and dance. To this day, the festival is increasing in popularity and has reached international status by being the largest cultural festival in North America.

Photo: Performer at the 2009 Caribana Festival.

Toronto's Caribana Festival Founded

Stacy Dunn


Alternate timeline

Multiculturalism Becomes Official Government Policy

The year 1971, marked for Canada, the establishment of an official policy of multiculturalism. On October 8th 1971, prime minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau, stated that multiculturalism became official government policy: no ethnic group took precedence over another. The policy stated to: assist all Canadian cultural groups to develop and contribute to Canada; assist members of all cultural groups to overcome barriers to full participation in Canadian society; promote interchange among all Canadian cultural groups; and, assist immigrants to acquire one of Canada’s official languages in order to fully participate in Canadian society. This date marked a major shift in Canadian policies, and a step towards correcting racial equity and equality imbalance was made.

October 8, 1971

Photo: John Lennon & Yoko Ono meet with Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau in Ottawa December of 1969.

MariuszJaniszewski


Alternate timeline

The Urban Alliance on Race Relations organization was launched in September of 1975, and its launch proved to be a key event in furthering the promotion of racial equality. It’s mandate from the beginning was to work for and maintain stable, peaceful, and harmonious relationships among the various racial and ethnic groups within the Greater Toronto community. The organization works to promote a stable and healthy multiracial and multiethnic environment in Toronto through public education, research, and advocacy. It works to dismantle barriers to equal opportunity, and assists public and private institutions to develop policies and practices that will ensure equal access to jobs and services in Canada.

September 1975

Photo: Perceptions of African-Canadian men

Creation of Urban Alliance on Race Relations Organization

MariuszJaniszewski


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Ontario Elects First Black Lieutenant-governor

Lincoln Alexander was sworn in as Ontario's lieutenant-governor in September 1985, the first Black person to hold the vice-regal position in Canada. This event signalled positive movement in racial power relations. In his political career he went on to present several recommendations to ease racial tensions: making the police complaint system more independent and accessible for members of the public who have objections about the conduct of police. Related to this, Bill 103, the Independent Police Review Act, was intended to establish a new public complaints process through amendments to the Police Services Act in order to make it more accessible by the public.

September 1985

Photo: The Honourable Lincoln Alexander.

MariuszJaniszewski


Alternate timeline

1991

The high school racial brawl in Cole Harbour Nova Scotia involving fifty youths of both black and white racial representations that took place in 1991, was a key was an important event which changed Nova Scotia’s racial equity policies, represented through the Human Rights and Equity document. The document includes such headings as: right to work, right to adequate standard of living, and right to education. Focusing on Right to Education, this subsection of the document highlights the major changes that were made after the incident in1991. There was a fund establishment for continuing education of minority groups, as well as an increased focus on equality rights of racial minority groups. The African Canadian Services Division was created within the government framework in the mid 1990's, as well as new curriculum documents include strong statements regarding equity and diversity, and emphasize the expectation that all students will be successful regardless of gender, racial and ethno-cultural background, social class, lifestyles, or abilities.

Photo: Police called to the school in 2009 following reports of fighting among the students

Nova Scotia High School Racial Brawl

MariuszJaniszewski


Alternate timeline

The 5th Yonge Street Riot

Photo: Screenshot from nationally televised footage of Rodney King beating.

The acquittal of police officers in the Rodney King case in 1992, in which King, a black male was videotaped getting severely beaten by LAPD officers in Los Angeles, coupled with the shooting of Raymond Lawrence, a black male by Toronto police on May 2nd just days after the acquittal of the LAPD officers, became the primary cause for a street demonstration which then became a night time riot on Toronto's Yonge Street on May 4th 1992. The riot played a significant role for African- Canadians because it prompted Canadians to address the root causes of Black frustration. Investigations that were made into this riot by the government were crucial in later developments because they revealed a sense of isolation among black youth, who felt that they were not receiving equal respect from those in authority.

May 4, 1992

MariuszJaniszewski


Image sources

Image sources:

Slide 3: Glenbow Archives: http://www.abheritage.ca/pasttopresent/en/settlement/black_settlers.html

Slide 4: St. Catharines Downtown Association – Banners: http://www.stcathdowntown.com/pages/banners

Slide 5:The Black Battalion, 1916-1920: Canada’s Best Kept Military Secret written by Calvin W. Ruck, published by Nimbus Publishing Limited. http://www.windsor-communities.com/african-military-warI.php#null

Slide 6:Concordia University Archives: http://www.ensemble.concordia.ca/pages.php?id=7

Slide 7: Owen Sound and North Grey Union Public Library: http://library.owensound.ca/page.php?PageID=188

Slide 8: A History of African Canadian Workers in Ontario 1900 to present: http://www.virtualmuseum.ca/Exhibitions/Africanworkers/English/HTML/World-War-II-1960.html

Slide 9: Canada’s Rights Movement: A History: http://www.historyofrights.com/primary_statutes.html

Slide 10: Black History Canada: http://blackhistorycanada.ca/profiles.php?themeid=20&id=14

Slide 11: Black Media Mine, Blogspot: http://blackmediamine.blogspot.com/2010/01/speak-it-from-heart-of-black-nova.html

Slide 12: Scotiabank Caribana: http://www.caribanafestival.com

Slide 13: Bregg, Peter. Pop Goes The Trudeau: John Lennon and Yoko Ono Meet with Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau in Ottawa, Dec. 1969. 1969. Photograph. Cbc.ca. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Web. 18 Jan. 2011. <http://www.cbc.ca/arts/music/lennoncanada.html>.

Slide 14: Ad by the Urban Alliance on Race Relations. Photograph. Web. 18 Jan. 2011. <http://people.senecac.on.ca/patricia.clark/urban-al.htm>.

Slide 15: The Honourable Lincoln Alexander, the First Black Canadian to Sit in the House of Commons and to Hold the Office of Lieutenant-governor. 1985. Photograph. Office of the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. Black History Canada. Historica Dominion. Web. 18 Jan. 2011. <http://blackhistorycanada.ca/timeline.php?id=1900>.

Slide 16:RCMP Said Three People Were Arrested following a Number of Fights Monday at Cole Harbour District High School. 2009. Photograph. Cbc.ca. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Web. 18 Jan. 2011. <http://www.cbc.ca/canada/nova-scotia/story/2009/05/04/ns-cole-harbour-high-brawl.html>.

Slide 17: Screenshot from Nationally Televised Footage of Rodney King Beating. Photograph.Wikipedia.com. Wikipedia. Web. 18 Jan. 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:R_King_beating.png>.


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