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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 6: Assimilation and Marginalization

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· 6 ·

ASSIMILATION AND MARGINALIZATION

If a slave has taken refuge with you, do not hand him over to his master. Let him live among you wherever he likes and in whatever town he chooses. Do not oppress him. (Deuteronomy 23:15–16)

In Canada, Black leaders spearheaded the organization of their churches. In 1802 at St. Catharines in Upper Canada, many of the Blacks migrated northward to Queenston, Fort Erie and Niagara-on-the-Lake. Following these ex-slaves, “…came the circuit riders or minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church who organized bands or societies of believers in the various homes, or held meetings in some halls for Weekly Sunday services.”1 In the post-1812 period, fugitive slaves who crossed the Detroit River were guided by the Thames River to Chatham and then to Lake Erie and Shrewsbury where they founded the First Baptist Church at Shrewsbury.2

In 1826 in Toronto, a group of refugee Blacks clamoured for a proper house of worship which eventually led to the establishment of the First Baptist Church by Elder Washington Christian. Likewise, in 1833 runaway slaves from the United States formed a congregation in Toronto which was located in Richmond Street, east of York Street. In 1851 this building was renamed Grant AME Church (in memory of Abraham Grant who later attained the ← 105 | 106 → position of bishop). Similar developments occurred in Amherstburg and Puce as increasing demands by refugee slaves led to the founding...

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