13 episodes

Find out more about black Canadians who contributed to the building of Canada and who are making their mark every day.



From our archives



Danger, hardship, heroism and tragedy. All are features of black immigration to Canada in the nineteenth century.



The story of black immigration to Canada began 400 years ago with the arrival of the French at Port Royal. John Graves Simcoe, the Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada, signed the Act Against Slavery in 1793.



Many black people came to Canada by their own means. But the Underground Railroad, an informal network of people and places organized to help black people escaping slavery, was an important feature of immigration to Canada in the nineteenth century.



It’s estimated that between 20,000 and 40,000 black people arrived in Canada during the first half of the nineteenth century. Some consider that the number could be as high as 60,000.



Radio Canada International has produced a series of vignettes spotlighting some of the black Canadians that have marked the country’s past, as well as those that are marking Canada’s present.



Researchers: Nataly Lague, Audrey Flat



Editors: Suzanne Shugar, Audrey Flat



Translator: Nataly Laguë



Sound recording, sound effects, sound mixing: Angela Leblanc



Producer; casting, music selection: Suzanne Shugar



Executive Producer: Raymond Desmarteau



A Radio Canada International production

RCI | English: Portraits of Black Canadians Radio Canada International

    • History

Find out more about black Canadians who contributed to the building of Canada and who are making their mark every day.



From our archives



Danger, hardship, heroism and tragedy. All are features of black immigration to Canada in the nineteenth century.



The story of black immigration to Canada began 400 years ago with the arrival of the French at Port Royal. John Graves Simcoe, the Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada, signed the Act Against Slavery in 1793.



Many black people came to Canada by their own means. But the Underground Railroad, an informal network of people and places organized to help black people escaping slavery, was an important feature of immigration to Canada in the nineteenth century.



It’s estimated that between 20,000 and 40,000 black people arrived in Canada during the first half of the nineteenth century. Some consider that the number could be as high as 60,000.



Radio Canada International has produced a series of vignettes spotlighting some of the black Canadians that have marked the country’s past, as well as those that are marking Canada’s present.



Researchers: Nataly Lague, Audrey Flat



Editors: Suzanne Shugar, Audrey Flat



Translator: Nataly Laguë



Sound recording, sound effects, sound mixing: Angela Leblanc



Producer; casting, music selection: Suzanne Shugar



Executive Producer: Raymond Desmarteau



A Radio Canada International production

    Portraits of Black Canadians – Episode 13

    Portraits of Black Canadians – Episode 13

    Sam Langford



    Samuel Edgar Langford, known as the Boston Terror, is considered by many boxing historians to be one of the greatest fighters of all time. 



    Duration: 2:27



    ListenEN_Clip_3-20200219-WME30

    • 2 min
    Portraits of Black Canadians – Episode 12

    Portraits of Black Canadians – Episode 12

    William Hall



    Petty Officer William Hall was the first black Canadian man to win the Victoria Cross for his actions at the Relief of Lucknow in 1857. 



    Duration: 2:40



    ListenEN_Interview_3-20200219-WIE30

    • 2 min
    Portraits of Black Canadians – Episode 11

    Portraits of Black Canadians – Episode 11

    Mary Ann Shadd Cary



    Today, we bring you the story of Mary Ann Shadd Cary. She moved to Canada from the United States in 1851 and eventually began editing The Provincial Freeman, a weekly newspaper first printed on March 24, 1853. This made Shadd the first Black woman in North America to publish a newspaper, and one of the first female journalists in Canada. During the Civil War she moved back to the U.S. and began work as a recruitment agent for the Union Army. Later, she moved to Washington, D.C., where she worked as a teacher. Years later, Shadd pursued law studies at Howard University and in 1883 became one of the first Black women to complete a law degree.



    Duration 2:56



    ListenEN_Interview_3-20200217-WIE30

    • 2 min
    Portraits of Black Canadians – Episode 10

    Portraits of Black Canadians – Episode 10

    The Press and the Anti- Slavery Movement



    Today we bring you the story of 19th century Canadian publications such as Voice of the Fugitive and The Globe advocating for freedom from bondage.



    Duration 3:13



    ListenEN_Interview_3-20200214-WIE30

    • 3 min
    Portraits of Black Canadians – Episode 9

    Portraits of Black Canadians – Episode 9

    Anti-slavery movement in Canada



    The Anti-Slavery Society of Canada was formed in Canada West (now Ontario) in 1851 to promote the global abolition of slavery and provide relief to African American refugees seeking freedom in Canada.



    Duration 2:40



    ListenEN_Interview_3-20200213-WIE30

    • 2 min
    Portraits of Black Canadians – Episode 8

    Portraits of Black Canadians – Episode 8

    Harriet Tubman



    Today we bring you the story of Harriet Tubman. She was a courageous “conductor” on the Underground Railroad, who led hundreds of American slaves to freedom in Canada.



    Duration 2:59



    ListenEN_Interview_3-20200212-WIE30

    • 3 min

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