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The History Of Black People In Nova Scotia, Canada

Black Loyalist

This brief synopsis of the history of Black people in Nove Scotia, Canada was put together in commemoration of Black History Month in North America. For a more concise account please consult the Nova Scotia Black Culture Society.

Nova Scotia Canada is one of the most important places in the history of AfRAkan People in North America. People of Afrakan descent have been living in Nova Scotia for over 300 years. There are records from as early as the 1760s that document the arrival of Black Planters who came from other British colonies.

The 1780s saw an influx of Black Loyalists from the US war of independence. In the 1790s the Maroons arrived from the West Indies. In the 1800s thousands of run away slaves also flooded in from the US. And finally in the 1900s many more Black migrants immigrated into Nova Scotia.

Originally designated by the British and sought out by many Black Slaves as a place of refuge, Nova Scotia turned out to be a not so friendly place for AfRAkans. They made it a home however and through the resilience of their AfRAkan Spirit, made it a home and are still proud residents today.

Upon first arrival, Black settlers to Nova Scotia had to endure isolation, segregation, and racial discrimination. Many Blacks were promised land by the British but that promise never came to pass.

Instead Black settlements were attacked by whites who accused Blacks of taking jobs from them. Even after hundreds of years Black settlements were still being uprooted by the provincial government to make space for commercial and other developments. Apologies were offered yet displaced Blacks have never been properly compensated.

It was determined by several accounts that Black AfRAkans have been living in the Province of Nova Scotia since the early 1700s as either French servants or trades workers but much of the records of their lives were not properly documented. Records of the arrival of Black people started to appear in public records after the English took over from the French in 1763.

Several hundred Blacks migrated to Nova Scotia in the 1760s along with the Planters. The Planters were a large group of settlers who came from New England after the British gained control over Nova Scotia from the French in 1763.

The British gave the Planters free land in order to populate the vast expanses of empty territory so that it could not fall back into the hands of the French. Then between 1783 and 1785 over 3,000 Black people came in as part of the Loyalist migration from the US.

The Loyalists were former American settlers who were loyal to Britain in the War Of Independence. The Loyalists were mostly White but also included many of their slaves, former slaves and indentured servant Blacks who had joined in the war after being promised freedom by the British.

The Black Loyalists began their journey a few years earlier in New York City. After the War of Independence the Loyalists feared retaliation from the Americans so the British decided to grant them help in re-locating to other areas of the British Empire.

The Americans fearing that other Blacks who did not fought in the war would seek freedom also so they orders the British to compile a list of all the Blacks that had fought with the Loyalists. The list was compiled into a book known today as The Book Of Negroes.

Only 3 copies of the book exist and contain all the surnames of the Black Loyalists who left New York for Europe, England, Africa, or Nova Scotia. The books can be found in Washington, England and Nova Scotia.

Black cultural center Of Nova Scotia


Upon arriving in Nova Scotia the Black Loyalists were scattered by the government throughout numerous towns and villages. They attempted to integrate into those existing communities but found out very quickly that they were not welcome, not even by their fellow white Loyalists.

Many therefore ventured out and formed their own towns and segregated communities. They became angry at the British for reneging on their promises to give each family a plot of land of their own. For several years they complained, which only resulted in a few of the high-ranking former solders getting land of their own. Discontent and animosity between whites and Blacks resulted in several race riots.

The Black Loyalists eventually gathered up enough financial support to send a representative to England to plead their case directly the monarchy. In England the Loyalists cause fell on deaf ears however, by chance they met some government representatives from Sierra Leon who promised to take them in and provide land for all of them, all they needed was transportation. They presented another proposal to the monarchy and the monarchy agreed to send ships to transport the Black Loyalists to Sierra Leon. A large percentage of the Black Loyalists made their way back to AfRAka in 1793.

In 1800 another group of AfRAkans known as the Maroons were also relocated to Sierra Leone from Nova Scotia. The Maroons are AfRAkans who were originally brought to Jamaica from AfRAka as slaves but who had escaped off the plantations, finding refuge in the hills and caves of the island.

The escapees formed Guerrilla groups that raided farms and assisted other slaves to escape. After years of being embarrassed by the Maroons the British decided to send in an army to fight back. A very prominent Maroon leader was captured resulting in the surrender of hundreds of others. The British then decided to deport the group into exile in order to diminish the threat of reprisal.

The Maroons were deported from Jamaica to Nova in 1796. Most of the rebellious group of 550 men, women and children were settled in the township of Preston. Although most found jobs as builders and laborers they never integrated with the other Blacks.

They had separate religious practices and different customs, which were foreign to the Black Loyalists who were a mixture of various denominations of Christianity. Four years after arriving, the Maroon demands to be brought back to AfRAka were fulfilled. In the year 1800 most were boarded onto ships and sent to Sierra Leone.

From 1812 to 1816, the last major influx of Blacks entered Nova Scotia. They came during and after The War Of 1812 between the US and Canada (which Canada won with help from Britain who disrespectfully burned down the White House in Washington DC). It was a terrible blow for the United States but it enabled thousands of Blacks to escape slavery and enter Canada.

Again, many were offered freedom and land in Nova Scotia by the British in exchange for their support during the war. These war veterans moved into the Halifax area to settle at Preston, Hammonds Plains, Beechville, Porter’s Lake, and the Lucasville Road, as well as the Windsor area.

It is important to mention that throughout the period of their arrival in Nova Scotia up until slavery officially ended in the US, Blacks lived under the constant fear of being kidnapped and re-sold back into slavery in the US. Slave hunters roamed the forests on foot and cruised the Nova Scotia coastlines in boats in search of Blacks that they could capture and earn a bounty on.

After slavery officially ended Blacks were still routinely exploited for cheap labor. In the early 1900s, when the Coal Industry in Nova Scotia wanted to undercut the wages that were built up by the local Black laborers, they recruited immigrants from the West Indies. Those West Indian communities still survives to the present day in Whitney Pier, Glace Bay and New Waterford, Porter’s Lake, and the Lucasville Road, as well as the Windsor area.

Racial tensions between Blacks and whites in Nova Scotia made headlines time after time throughout the 1900s. One famous incident happened in 1945 when Viola Desmond, a Black entrepreneur was arrested and thrown in jail for deliberately dis-obeying the whites-only sign in a movie theater. Though the incident sparked riots in the city at the time it never ignited the fury that a similar act of civil disobedience by Rosa Parks caused 10yrs later in the United States.

Today people of African descent continue to immigrate to Nova Scotia. Many Black Nova Scotians have risen to prominence within Canadian society in Politics, Education, Business, and Law. This posting is only a brief synopsis of the rich history of Black Nova Scotions. To enrich your knowledge of this important history simply visit the links within the post and also do more research by obtaining some books on the topic.