A workshop at Brock this week will delve into the role of African Canadians in the War of 1812 – a topic researchers say is underrepresented in scholarly and popular literature.
“We Stand on Guard for Thee: African Canadians in the War of 1812,” takes place at the University from Thursday, May 10 to Friday, May 11, in Pond Inlet.
The event is co-sponsored by the Harriet Tubman Institute at York University in co-operation with the Department of History at Brock, the Central Ontario Network for Black History and the St. Catharines Museum.
The workshop will provide a forum for scholars, students, educators, historians and members of the public to explore the important role played by African Canadians in the last war fought on Canadian soil.
The gathering will also showcase a new web-based project to help children “virtually” experience the history surrounding the Underground Railroad, the first phase of which will be unveiled by the Hon. Jean Augustine, Fairness Commissioner for Ontario.
Wilma Morrison, an Order of Ontario recipient, will be an honorary patron at the event. Morrison, a local historian, curator, advocate and educator of black history in Niagara, received an honorary degree from Brock in 2010.
The opening reception on May 10 at 6:30 p.m., will feature the Honorable James J. Bradley, Deputy Government Leader of the House and Environment Minister for Ontario; Brian McMullan, Mayor of St. Catharines; Paul Dyster, Mayor of Niagara Falls, New York; Brian Merrett, CEO of the War of 1812 Legacy Council for Niagara; and Bonnie Rose, Executive Vice-President of Niagara University.
Guest speaker Gareth Newfield of the Canadian War Museum will present “Free Men of Colour: The Coloured Corps during the War of 1812,” followed by a musical performance by Diana Braithwaite and Chris Whitely. The launch of Conestogo Bound: Black Pioneers of Wellington County, an original film by Queen’s Bush pioneer descendant Diana Braithwaite, will conclude the evening.
Friday’s workshops will discuss topics including the Coloured Corps stationed at Fort George in Niagara-on-the-Lake, the wartime experience of Black women and children, African Canadian service in the battle for the Great Lakes and on the high seas, and the post-war migration to Maritime Canada of the so-called “Black Refugees,” some 2,000 African Americans who fought on the British side in the War of 1812.
Also on Friday, Jean Augustine will launch Breaking the Chains: Presenting a New Narrative for Canada’s Role in the Underground Railroad. The web-based project includes 24 original biographies of people who came to Canada in search of freedom before the U.S. Civil War.
This event is made possible by funding provided by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).
For more info, the complete conference program and registration details, click here.