Black History in Canada

5 SECTION 2: BLACK LOYALISTS, MAROONS, AND BLACK REFUGEES IN NOVA SCOTIA Between 1783 and 1785, more than 3,000 recently freed Black people set sail from the Eastern United States to Nova Scotia and established communities in areas such as Shelburne, Annapolis Royal, Digby, Sydney, and Halifax. While the majority of Black Loyalists fleeing the United States resettled in Nova Scotia, others were transported to and settled in European countries, the Caribbean, and the provinces of Quebec, New Brunswick, and Ontario. Black Loyalists were considered free people in the eyes of the law, nevertheless they experienced rampant racism, discrimination, and violence in various forms. Many never received the land they were promised, and those who did were often given unworkable plots. White Loyalists were also permitted to import enslaved Africans and Indigenous people with them when they came to the Canadian colonies after the Revolutionary War. After years of challenging conditions such as unfair distribution of land, racial segregation, a lack of support from the government, low-paying jobs, inequality, and hostility, many Black Loyalists in Nova Scotia petitioned the English Crown to leave. In 1792, the British offered land and an opportunity to create and govern policies in the West African British colony of Sierra Leone, and 1,200 Black Loyalists departed Nova Scotia to settle in Freetown, the capital of the new colony. A few years later in 1796, approximately 600 men, women, and children, called the Trelawny Maroons, were exiled from Jamaica to Nova Scotia. Upon their arrival, the Maroons were settled in places like Halifax and Preston. The men mostly laboured, built, and farmed, while the women and children provided the local market with provisions such as berries, eggs, poultry, pigs, brooms, and baskets. In 1800, after a difficult couple of years of cold winters, unfamiliar foods, and the delayed delivery of supplies and clothing, the majority of the Maroons, like the Black Loyalists eight years prior, departed for Freetown, Sierra Leone. Though the Trelawny Maroons were in Nova Scotia for only four years, they left a legacy that includes the third reconstruction of Citadel Hill and the construction of the Government House for the LieutenantGovernor of Nova Scotia. A third wave of migration of Black people to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick occurred after the War of 1812 between the United States, Britain, and their respective allies. These migrants were enslaved people from states such as Georgia, Maryland, and Virginia, who once again took up the offer of freedom from the British if they fought alongside them. By the end of the war in 1815, 2,000 of the approximately 4,000 enslaved Black persons who had enlisted boarded British ships headed to Nova Scotia. Some went to New Brunswick, and the remainder settled in other British colonies like Trinidad in the Caribbean. Like the Black Loyalists and the Trelawny Maroons before them, these Black refugees faced hostility, racial discrimination, and economic hardship in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. However, unlike their predecessors, only 95 left the provinces to resettle elsewhere. The majority stayed, building lives for themselves in communities such as Preston, Hammonds Plains, Beechville, Five Mile Plains, Beaverbank, and Prospect Road. Maroons were groups of formerly enslaved Africans and their descendants who fled chattel enslavement in the Americas and found refuge in remote mountains or dense tropical areas in nearby regions. The word “maroon” comes from the Spanish word “cimarrón” meaning “wild.” Maroon communities were predominantly founded in the Caribbean and throughout the Americas. Black Loyalists were enslaved or indentured African Americans, and some free Black people who fought for the British during the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783). They were promised both freedom and land in return for their service. Many would end up in Canada. KEY TERMS A Black Canadian Wood Cutter at Shelburne, Nova Scotia (Library and Archives Canada/Acc. No. 1970-188-1090/ W.H. Cloverdale Collection of Canadiana) Leonard Parkinson, A Captain of the Maroons (British Library) Bedford Basin near Halifax, Robert Petley, 1835 (Library and Archives Canada/Acc. No. 1938-220-1) An illustration of formerly enslaved peoples arriving in Sierra Leone (Samuel Goodrich, 1839)