Vanessa Childs Rolls: First African Cape Bretoners had plenty of struggles when they first arrived | Community

The first people of African descent to come to the Sydney area are revealed in the records of St. George’s church.

There were 58 slaves in Cape Breton from 1758 to 1833. The church recorded their racial designation along with their marriages, deaths and baptisms. They did not tend to stay in Sydney. Often they left when their owners left.

The largest groups of people of African descent arrived with the establishment of the Dominion Iron and Steel Company. When the steel plant opened in 1901 there was an influx of workers from a wide variety of cultural backgrounds.

There were two groups of African men to arrive. There were the blacks who were brought from Alabama because they were experts in certain aspects of steel making. The other group were from the West Indies…

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