Jehanne T.

Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario


Racial Segregation of Black People in Canada

My Heritage Fair topic is about the racial segregation of Black people in Canada. Segregation took place in Ontario, Nova Scotia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. Various places such as schools, theatres, restaurants and neighbourhoods, separated Black Canadians from White Canadians. Schools had separate benches as well as schools for blacks students. Neighbourhoods prevented everything other than people who were white to own a house. Theatres only allowed Black people to sit on the balcony and were not allowed to use the main floor. Restaurants would deny service to black people because discrimination was not against the law. Years later segregation still affects black Canadians in schools, workplaces, et cetera.

What was the most interesting thing you learned about your topic?

I was really surprised that Black people who filed a lawsuit because they faced discrimination, won their cases. For example, Charles Daniels sued Sherman Grand Theatre in 1914 and won his case. The reason I was as surprised was because of how bad racism was in the judicial system then.

What important lessons have you learned that you want to share with other Canadians?

I wanted to share the reality of how badly Canada has treated Black people but also the progress Canada has made with trying to fix these issues and being more inclusive. Segregation of black people in the United States is talked about but we don’t really talk about Segregation in Canada, so I wanted to highlight these issues.

How would you compare your life today to the lives of those studied in your project?

As a Black immigrant I am glad that I don’t face the same scale of racism or discrimination as Black children and adults did a few years ago. Canada has come a really long way when it comes to inclusion and diversity, so even at school, I feel welcomed and treated with respect like everyone else.