In the symphony of echoes that make up our nationâs history, those of our African-Canadian populations are far too seldom heard. They had a hand in early exploration, helped found and build many of our earliest settlements, and flourished as Canadians. In February, to mark Black History Month, Canada Post will honour two pioneering figures with a set of commemorative stamps.
Abraham Doras Shadd (1801-1882)
Abraham Doras Shadd was born in 1801 in Mill Creek Hundred, Delaware. Though a free-born and prosperous hoemaker, he devoted his life to the abolitionist movement. Shadd protested racism at countless abolitionist meetings and played a major role in the Underground Railroad, a secret route through which slaves were guided to freedom in Canada. As âstationmasterâ and âconductorâ for the Railroad, he provided escaping refugees with food, shelter, clothing and guidance. In 1851, Shadd and his family moved to southern Ontarioâs North Buxton area, where they joined many of those he guided to freedom. He was the first Black person to serve in Canadian public office when he was elected to the Council of Raleigh, Ontario, in 1859.
Rosemary Brown (1930-2003)
Rosemary Brown (nÃ©e Wedderburn) was born in Jamaica on June 17, 1930. Though nearly a century had passed since Abraham Shadd first set foot on Canadian soil, skin colour remained an opportunity barrier for the countryâs Black populations when Brown arrived in 1950 to study at Montrealâs McGill University.
Brown fought for her rights and those of other women and minorities throughout her trailblazing career as an activist, feminist, opponent of racism, and champion of human rights. Brown became the first Black woman elected to public office in Canada when she was elected as a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) in the British Columbia legislature in 972. She also ran for the leadership of the federal New Democratic Party (NDP), making her the first woman to run for the leadership of a Canadian federal political party.
This stamp set features original illustrations of these two figures. âThrough illustration, we were able to broaden the creative spectrum, bringing together a wealth of imagery to tell Shadd and Brownâs remarkable stories,â explains designer Lara Minja of Lime Design Inc. âWe brought these figures to life by placing them in the scenes within which they tread new ground and inspired change.â On one stamp, Abraham Shadd is shown in the foreground holding a lantern, with refugee slaves headed towards shelter in the background. On the other stamp, Rosemary Brown stands before the B.C. L egislative Building.
Contributors – Past, Present & Future
The link below will take you to a page of links, compiled by Dr. Alice Tyler Milton , that will enrich your knowledge of the past, present, and selfless contributions made by just a few of the many great African Americans. As you read the wealth of information on this page, think about how our world would be today without the contributions. Also, recognize the unbending focus and intensity of their efforts despite repeated rejections and unfulfilled expectations. We must continue to remember and respect our heritage by never saying good-bye to yesterday, for we are still standing on their shouldersâyesterday made our present possible . . .
Books for Black History Month.
1. I’ve Got a Home in Glory Land: A Lost Tale of The Underground Railroad.
Author: Karolyn Smardz Frost
This epic book is the recipient of the Governor General’s Award for non-fiction for 2009. The book is about the life and times of Thorton and Lucie Blackburn’s journey to freedom. The Blackburns fled slavery in Kentucky in 1831 and founded the Dawn Settlement near Drysden.
Written as an adventurous love story, the book follows the Blackburns from slavery in Kentucky to freedom in Canada, and their roles in the Underground Railroad.