Slavery, Segregation, Shocking Secrets: Canada’s Hidden History Revealed

Slavery, Segregation, Shocking Secrets:
Canada’s “Hidden History” Revealed on ichannel

Toronto – February 11, 2009 – Most Canadian students have learned about the “Underground Railroad”, a 19th century effort to help slaves escape from the U.S. for freedom in Canada. However, as revealed on an ichannel Black History Month special, conventional curriculums deliberately overlook the fact that slavery was active in Canada, along with segregation in schools, theatres and even towns for whites only.

In “Hidden History”, centuries of discrimination toward African Canadians is explored, as an installment of ichannel’s “@ issue”. Host Kevin O’Keefe’s guests include Rosemary Sadlier, author and President of the Ontario Black History Society, who summarizes the acceptance and practice of slavery in Canada, until it was abolished on August 1, 1834.

Barrington Walker, Associate Professor of History at Queens University, joins the discussion to explain that the “Underground Railroad” flowed both ways. For a short period in 1784, slavery was abolished in some Northeastern U.S. states, and black slaves were actually smuggled south of the border to escape slavery in Canada.

Sylvia Hamilton, producer of the documentary “Little Black Schoolhouse”, talks about segregation, revealing that the last segregated school in Ontario still existed until 1964, while one was still maintained in Nova Scotia until 1983. She also discusses Viola Desmond, a Nova Scotia businesswoman who was jailed and fined in 1946, for sitting in the white section of a movie theatre. Desmond is largely regarded as “Canada’s Rosa Parks”.

The show concludes with George Elliott Clarke, a Nova Scotian African Canadian author and historian. Among other facts Clarke discloses that many African Canadians actually returned to the U.S., after the Civil War ended in 1865, because their treatment in Canada was so deplorable. He warns that keeping Black History hidden allowed Canada to repeat human rights violations, including the Japanese internment during the Second World War and the Chinese Head Tax.

@ issue “Hidden History” will be televised on ichannel on Tuesday, February 24th, at 8:00pm ET and PT. ichannel is available through local television providers.

For more information, contact:
Kevin O’Keefe, @ issue Producer, (416) 756-5505, kokeefe@ichannel.ca
Rosemary Fusca, Head of Programming, (416) 756-5523, rfusca@stornoway.com

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