Stories

Stories categorized: A Black Presence in Alberta

Shadows, Shade, and Sunshine

Oumar Salifou

Sneak preview – Check back for this story about growing up in Edmonton. A connection with our city’s diverse ethnocultural backgrounds in the shadow and sunshine of the Green Shacks.

Cariwest: The Caribbean Community’s Gift to Edmonton

Donna Coombs-Montrose

CARIWEST – Caribbean Arts Festival was introduced to Edmonton in 1984. It was created by Western Carnival Development Association (WCDA)…

Once a Teacher, Always a Teacher

Jeannette Austin-Odina

My journey towards becoming an educator started in my childhood with time spent under a mango tree at my home…

Edmonton’s Caribbean Journey

Donna Coombs-Montrose

The flights touched down at a Canadian International Airport bringing scores of eager Caribbean nationals, their suitcases packed with their…

Vivacious Caribbean Teachers

Etty Shaw-Cameron

During the 1960s, school jurisdictions in Alberta advertised for teachers in leading newspapers and at teacher training colleges in the…

Arrivals in Late 1800s

Dr. Jennifer Kelly

Initially, Black Canadians made their way to the North-West Territories as individual pioneers or accompanying traders. Most were attempting to make a living from the fur trade and found employment with companies such as the Hudson’s Bay Company.

ONC: Capturing Everyday Life & Challenging Stereotypes

Dr. Jennifer Kelly

While life during this period was vibrant it must also be recognized that stereotyping by mainstream society was apparent and affected levels of expectations, as well as the employment prospects, of many of these Black citizens. The ONC column took a strong stance on issues of racism and social exclusion regarded as “drawing the colour line.”

Changing Social Conditions, Occupations & Immigration

Dr. Jennifer Kelly

During this time, we begin to see a change in the demographics of the Alberta-based Black Canadian community as folks who came from the United States in the early 1900s begin to encounter people recently arrived from the United States, often as athletes, and those who were arriving in increasing numbers from the Caribbean.

Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters

Dr. Jennifer Kelly

Beginning in 1939, American A. Philip Randolph visited Canada to assist with organizing an International section of the U.S.-based Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (BSCP). The catalyst for this separate organization of workers was the racism that employees of African descent faced on the railway.

Emigration of Teachers from the Caribbean to Alberta, 1960s

Dr. Jennifer Kelly

Within the larger group of Caribbean immigrants there were a number of internationally educated teachers who came from different islands in order to fill the need for teachers in Alberta.

Alberta’s Early Black Settlements

Dr. Jennifer Kelly

Many Black immigrants who came to Alberta as family groups in the early 1900s had previously lived in Oklahoma Territory alongside the Five Civilized Tribes (Cherokee, Creek, Seminole, Chickasaw, Choctaw). Following the creation of the state in 1907, Black residents faced increased levels of discrimination through segregation laws and voter disenfranchisement.

Social Exclusion

Dr. Jennifer Kelly

In the early 1900s, Black pioneers in Alberta often saw themselves as proud Canadian citizens and British subjects. However, they faced and fought exclusion from several aspects of Canadian life ranging from serving in the Canadian Expeditionary Forces to local theatres to swimming pools and access to housing.