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Secular, Scarred and Sacred

Education and Religion Among the Black Community in Nineteenth-Century Canada

Jerome Teelucksingh

Secular, Scarred and Sacred: Education and Religion Among the Black Community in Nineteenth-Century Canada focuses on the paternal yet exclusionary role of Protestant Whites and their churches among refugee slaves and free Blacks in nineteenth-century Upper Canada—many of whom had migrated to Canada to escape the dreaded system of slavery in the United States. This book contends that White Protestant churches provided organizational, social and theological models among Black communities in Canada. Author Jerome Teelucksingh further explores how Black migrants seized the educational opportunities offered by churches and schools to both advance academically and pursue an ideal of virtuous citizenship that equipped them for new social challenges.

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Chapter 1: Slavery and Migration to Canada


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All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered. (Timothy 6:1)

For two centuries, from 1600 to 1800, slavery existed in Canada. The early slaves were First Nations or indigenous peoples known as panis. In 1501, Gaspar Corte-Real, a Portuguese explorer, landed in Newfoundland. He subsequently captured and enslaved 50 native persons. Almost three decades later, in 1535, Jacques Cartier, a French explorer, captured 10 members of the Iroquois and carried them to be displayed in France.

There was an early Black presence in Nova Scotia. In a census of 1686 when the French possessed Acadia, a Black resided at Cape Sable near Yarmouth. He was identified as “la Liberté, le neigre” (Liberty the Black).2 In the Halifax Gazette of 1752, there was an advertisement for Blacks to be sold to the public.3 Likewise, in 1775, the Nova Scotia Gazette and Weekly Chronicle advertised “A lively, well-made, negro boy, about 16 years old.”4

In Canada a few of the slaves assisted in the fields but most served as household servants who lived with their masters. Some slaves from Bermuda worked on fishing ships in Newfoundland in the late eighteenth century.5 In Upper Canada during the 16th and 17th centuries, slavery was common. Many ← 11 | 12 → of the important British...

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