Do you know about Canada’s Black Pioneers?

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This past weekend I visited the Royal Alberta Museum in Canada and of course, I expected the usual stuff, or the usual stuffed animals I should say. However, I must say two exhibitions left we pleasantly suprised and I learned A LOT!

First up they have an excellent area dedicated to the native people’s of the area, showing many artifacts, personal stories and more BUT it was learning about Canada’s Black pioneers, those who ventured into these harsh lands a century ago looking for a better life that really sparked my imagination.

The small exhibition entitled I AM FROM HERE is an excellent little window into the past and the present activities of these pioneer’s families. The pioneers eventually opened a poplar chicken shop, a pie shop, had their own church and other businesses, a thriving community.

Here is the exhibition synopsis from the Royal Alberta Museum website.

I Am From Here

 

 

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“…this is why sometimes I cry in my heart; I just love it out here. I love my people but the memory of it hurts because we gave our lives to this part of the country… no one knows this.”
– Rosa Shannon, Wildwood, Alberta, from The Window of Our Memories by Velma Carter and Wanda Leffler Akili, 1981.

Hundreds of Black pioneers made Alberta their home over a century ago, when the province was still young. The legacy of these early settlers is deeply rooted in communities such as Campsie, Wildwood, Amber Valley, Breton, Edmonton and Calgary. Yet, when their descendants are asked “Where are you from?” their answer, “I am from here,” is often met with surprise or confusion.

I Am From Here, a new exhibition in RAM’s Human History Hall, shares the remarkable stories of the descendants of Alberta’s early Black pioneers. Listen to spoken word stories from a tabletop jukebox, sit in a classic diner booth, welcome home a railroad porter, or watch a film about one family’s quilting tradition. Explore what it means to say “I am from here.”

I Am From Here is open March 23, 2019 – September 7, 2020.

If you are anywhere near, I encourage you to visit, and if you are not then I certainly encourage you to learn more about these people who braved the Great White North so many years ago and what became of their legacy.

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PUBLIC NOTE: The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the view of the Urban Intellectuals, affiliates or partners.



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