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Slavery in Quebec: Shedding Light on a Largely Unknown History

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--February 13, 2017.

larger_print_0.jpgSLAVERY IN QUEBEC: SHEDDING LIGHT ON A LARGELY UNKNOWN HISTORY.

Aly Ndiaye uses the heel of his boot to remove the frozen snow from a display case outside city hall, and reveals a reproduction of a 1760 print by British military artist Richard Short.

The print depicts the Jesuit college that once stood here and the damage it sustained during the British conquest of Quebec City. Most tour guides remark on the gaping holes caused by cannon fire.

Not Ndiaye. He points instead to a small black child in a corner of the print.

Dressed formally — white hat, billowy short pants and white knee socks — the boy is following an affluent-looking white couple.

“This is the first image of a black person in Quebec,” Ndiaye explains. “Maybe even in Canadian history.”

The boy’s formal attire and the safe distance he maintains behind the couple indicate that the child, who does not appear to be older than 10, was their slave.

The display, Ndiaye says, encapsulates black history in Quebec: “It’s there, but we don’t see it.”

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