Multimedia Activity: What’s Your Story?
As she writes names into the historic “Book of Negroes” ledger, Aminata says: “It excited me to imagine that fifty years later, someone might find an ancestor in the Book of Negroes and say, ‘That was my grandmother.’”
The “Book of Negroes” has been used to trace the heritage of Black Canadians. Log on to Ancestry.ca to trace your own family history.
Contact The Historica-Dominion Institute and receive complimentary membership to Ancestry.ca for your school library or computer labs.
Before beginning your own research, consider the following important information about evaluating sources:
- What is a source? Reliable sources are a critical element in family history research because they help you prove that the information you are compiling is accurate. When you run into conflicting information, it is much easier to decide which source is more reliable if you know where your information came from.
- How do historical records make it onto Ancestry.ca?
Now you are ready to map your own family’s history. Use some of the following tools to map the story of your ancestors:
- Immigration and Travel records document the journey of your immigrant ancestors and their steps towards becoming citizens of their new country. The collection includes immigration records from Canada, United Kingdom, the U.S. and several other countries from around the world.
- Birth, Marriage & Death, collectively known as vital records, can provide details about births/baptisms, marriages and deaths/burials in your ancestors’ lives. Vital records are a cornerstone of family history research because they were typically created at or near the time of the event, making the records more likely to be accurate. This category includes indexes that can help you request copies from vital records keepers, and in some cases the images of actual records.
- Military Records are wonderful sources that provide unique facts and insights into the lives of men and women who have served in the armed forces. They may include dates of birth and death, residence, names and addresses of family members, and military rank and affiliation, among other details. The types of records you’ll find in this category include draft records, service records, pension records, bounty land records, claim records, and military histories.
- Newspapers and Publications give us the remarkable ability to see history through eyewitness accounts. They are the day-to-day diaries of community events and include stories of the famous and ordinary people.
- Name Meaning & History – “What’s in a name?” Learn about the family history of your surname.
These additional resources may be of interest in your research:
- Peopling North America: Population Movements & Migration, “African Migration to the New World”
- Extensive genealogical resources pertaining to American Blacks who settled in Upper Canada. From the OntarioGenWeb website.
Pluralism and Diversity
A pluralistic and diverse society is one in which people from a variety of cultures, ethnicities, and backgrounds co-exist. Canada has worked to develop such a society, but it did not happen overnight.
Think about what these words mean and in what ways they are reflected in Canada. Are there any specific examples that show Canada’s pluralism?
- Read the introduction to Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In what ways does it protect the rights of minorities?
- In what respects do you think Canada need to increase its diversity? How could this be achieved?
- In what ways does pluralism and diversity give strength to Canada?
- Compare Canada of 1910 to the Canada of 2010. In terms of experiences for Black Canadians, how have things changed?
You can consider some of the following resources in your research:
- Online excerpts from the reference book The Blacks in Canada, a historical survey of the Black experience in Canada.
- Human Rights in Canada: A Historical Perspective
- Online excerpts from Talking About Identity: Encounters in Race, Ethnicity, and Language, 2nd Edition.
- Additional resources on Black Canadian identity
Activity: Black History Month
“That this House take note of the important contribution of black Canadians to the settlement, growth and development of Canada, the diversity of the black community in Canada and its importance to the history of this country, and recognize February as black history month.”
Jean Augustine, MP, in the House of Commons, Dec. 14, 1995
Black History Month has been celebrated in Canada since 1996. In groups of four or five discuss the following questions:
- Is Black History Month needed? What are its benefits?
- Do you know of other countries that celebrate Black History Month?
- What types of activities would you say are best suited to celebrating this day? Create a list of five activities.
- Find a news article that deals with Black history or Black History Month and share it with the class.
- Write a letter to the editor of a newspaper reminding readers of the importance of Black History Month. In your letter include two references to historical events or people to bolster the strength of the letter.
Write a one-page event plan for a program celebrating Black History Month. Consider some of the following aspects:
- Guest list
- Possible performances
- Keynote speakers