Black History in Canada

Still from Thornton and Lucie Blackburn video (Historica Canada) 8 ACTIVITY 3.2 ACTIVITY 3.3 THE BLACKBURNS Mary Ann Shadd Cary Podcast 2. The story of the Blackburns involves three key elements: the Underground Railroad, legal history in Upper Canada, and life as a Black person in Upper Canada. Either in paragraphs or as a chart, write down the ways in which the Blackburns’ story intersects with these categories. Consider both how their lives were influenced by the circumstances around them, and how they affected their surroundings in turn. 3. In small groups, discuss what you have learned from their story. What obstacles did they face on their journey to Detroit, and then to Upper Canada? What were some of the laws and practices that influenced their journey? Based on their story, what might a freedom seeker expect from life in Upper Canada? What can we learn about the conditions that Black people faced, and what does it reveal about society at large? Why do you think the Blackburns’ story had been forgotten for so long? Compare the Blackburns’ story with the stories you researched in Activity 3.1. How are these stories similar, and how are they different? What does this reveal about the diversity of experiences that people lived? If their stories involve different provinces or time periods, how did those differing circumstances affect their journeys and experiences? 1. Listen to the Mary Ann Shadd Cary podcast episode of Strong and Free, and read the article on Mary Ann Shadd Cary. 2. As a class, discuss Shadd Cary’s historical significance (use the Historical Thinking Concepts). Think about why a Black woman publishing a newspaper would have been revolutionary for this time and place. What might her paper have covered that was left out of mainstream media? Who would this paper have been important to? What people and perspectives might have had a platform for the first time? 3. Think about what Garvia Bailey says in the podcast: “A newspaper is important because it gets things on the record. What you publish in the moment becomes how we understand history.” With that in mind, design a newspaper front page covering current social and political issues and interests important to you. Consider your bias and perspective: what is influencing the media you choose to share? See the Critical Digital Literacy Education Guide for more information about choosing reputable news sources. 4. Compare your page to those of 2-3 of your classmates. Which issues are covered by multiple people? What differences in coverage can you see? Did you find any issues or events that you were previously unaware of? 5. Have a class discussion: based on this exercise, do you think the media landscape in Canada today is representative of the people who live here? How does it compare to representation in the past? Do you consume a variety of media from different perspectives? If not, how can you implement changes in your own news consumption? Mary Ann Shadd Cary (Library and Archives Canada/C-029977) EXTENSION ACTIVITY The story of Thornton and Lucie Blackburn is one of the many from this period that was lost to history, until an archaeological dig revealed their unique story and connection to the Underground Railroad. 1. Watch the video on Thornton and Lucie Blackburn, and read their biography and the Black History in Canada until 1900 article on The Canadian Encyclopedia. You may also want to do supplementary research.