Black History in Canada

10 ACTIVITY 4.1 JOHN WARE 1. Watch the video and listen to the podcast episode from the Strong and Free series on John Ware, and read his biography on The Canadian Encyclopedia. 2. In pairs, create a film proposal about John Ware and early Black settlement in the Canadian Prairies, based on your research. This proposal should include a logline, an act structure, a character list, a target audience, and a mood board using primarily historical images. 3. Keep the following in mind when deciding what events and themes to include in your proposal: a. What parts of his life were considered significant at the time? What about now? b. What impact did he have? Was it widespread? c. What does his life reveal about the larger historical context? d. What personal aspects of his life would you like to reflect? What about aspects that help us understand Canadian society at large at this time? e. In what way does his story add to, or change your understanding of Black history in the Prairies, and Canada more broadly? Why is that the case? f. Is Ware’s story reflective of the average Black immigrant experience at the time? Why or why not? Of the many settlers and cowboys living in the West during the 1800s, one of the most famous is John Ware (1845/50–1905). Ware was enslaved in the United States before gaining his freedom, working as a cowboy, and moving to Alberta. A successful rancher, he lived with his family on his own ranch near Calgary, Alberta. His wife, Mildred, came from a family of freedom seekers in Toronto. Ware is one of many Black Canadians who were able to prosper despite the widespread anti-Black discrimination they faced at both the public and governmental levels. John Ware is remembered today for his courage, physical strength, and horsemanship. Take this opportunity to discuss the power of perception. Ask students to be mindful of the way John Ware’s story is usually told, and how this can be damaging to our understanding of Black history in Canada. TEACHER TIP John Ware, rancher (Libraries and Cultural Resources Digital Collections/University of Calgary) Still from Strong and Free: John Ware podcast (Historica Canada)