a part of life in Halifax
Slavery was a part of Halifax life. Many would like to deny this history by believing that slavery never existed in Halifax, or that it ended by 1792. In truth slavery existed here until 1834, only 31 years before the end of Slavery in the US. While the number of slaves in the southern US was much larger than in Canada, it was just as harsh in this country. “Enslaved Blacks in Canada were murdered, whipped, tortured, starved, imprisoned, punished and brutalized in other ways by their masters” says Aufa Cooper(1).
Slavery existed under both the French and the British in Nova Scotia. During French rule blacks and a smaller number of natives were enslaved. When the British established Halifax in 1749, they also began “importing” slaves. During the American Revolution many free blacks sought refuge in Canada, but also many white “Loyalist” brought their slaves with them, increasing the enslaved population in the province. Slavery was a fact of life right up until it was banned in the British Empire in 1834.
The end of slavery gave more freedoms to former slaves, but it did not put them on an even footing in Nova Scotia. Due to discrimination, life for free blacks in Nova Scotia had always been full of hardship. Farmers could only farm second rate land, and jobs were scarce. people to come together in communities like Africville, but by the 1960's Africville was targeted for demolition, and it population was displaced.
Slavery was a terrible blemish on the history of Nova Scotia. The face of racism has drastically changed. It has become more subtle, but in Halifax and around the Province, it is still a part of everyday life.