Racist immigration policies ensured that no more than a few Black people trickled into the country. The Canadian government moved to restrict African American settlement in Alberta and the Prairies and it went out of its way to discourage employers from bringing in Caribbean workers in eastern and central Canada. However, the bigger untold story was the flood of migration out of Canada on the part of many young Blacks to the United States.

Aspiring nurses, doctors and other professionals trained at segregated Black colleges in the United States. Most did not return.
Racist immigration policies ensured that no more than a few Black people trickled into the country. The Canadian government moved to restrict African American settlement in Alberta and the Prairies and it went out of its way to discourage employers from bringing in Caribbean workers in eastern and central Canada. However, the bigger untold story was the flood of migration out of Canada on the part of many young Blacks to the United States.

Aspiring nurses, doctors and other professionals trained at segregated Black colleges in the United States. Most did not return.

© 2007 Workers Arts and Heritage Centre - All Rights Reserved

Citizenship

African Canadians went back and forth across the border for work numerous times during their lives. Many remained in the United States permanently.

Non-resident alien's border crossing identification card belonging to John Shadell Grant of St. Catharines, Ontario, 1943.

Marjorie Dawson Collection, St. Catharines Museum

© St. Catharines Museum


Mark Lawson

Mark Lawson, born in St. Catharines, Ontario, became a professor of music in Cleveland, Ohio.

Helen Smith Collection, St. Catharines Museum

© St. Catharines Museum


Emily Hill

Emily Hill, from Campbellville, Ontario, trained as a nurse in New York and is believed to be the first Black nurse to practice in World War I.

Bernice Johnson

© Bernice Johnson


Sheffield Family

Sheffield family group taken from a postcard

Noreen Smith Collection, St. Catharines Museum

© St. Catharines Museum


Learning Objectives

The learner will:

  • explain how Canada’s identity has been and continues to be shaped by its global participation;
  • comment on the political and social context of African Canadians between 1900 and World War II;
  • discuss civil rights of African Canadians from 1960 to now.

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