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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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The history of Blacks departing the United States and settling in Canada is strikingly similar to that of other immigrants in Canada. By the mid-nineteenth century Canada comprised numerous European immigrants. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the Scottish, Hungarians, Italians and Jews initially endured hostile treatment akin to the Blacks’ experiences. These new settlers faced racial, ethnic and religious discrimination and, like the Blacks, were able to overcome these social, religious and cultural obstacles. And, in terms of push factors, the European minorities left their homeland to escape from poverty, peasantry, religious or political persecutions; whilst the Blacks wanted to escape the curse of slavery.

Despite the emphasis on fugitive Blacks, it should be acknowledged that not all Blacks were fugitives. There were those whose guaranteed freedom in Canada did not merit the acceptance of religion or membership in a denomination. However, the work of the Church extended to all Blacks without taking into account their religious conviction. The journey to Canada not only meant physical freedom but a liberating experience incorporating the psychological, spiritual and emotional being. The trauma of slavery was still fresh in the minds of many Blacks and many of the answers to their actions and responses can be traced to a violent past and being uprooted from their ← xi | xii → native Africa. Protestantism provided a much needed support for these illegal immigrants seeking spiritual salvation and physical protection.

The primary sources for this research included the...

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