On Mar 24, 2021, parliament voted Aug 1 to be recognized nationally as Emancipation Day.
188 years after Emancipation from slavery in the former British colonies.
In March 2020, I learned of Queen's Bush Settlement, a thriving black community of approximately 3000 people who lived between London, Hamilton and the Grey Bruce areas of Southwestern Ontario, from 1820-1867. Receiving no reprise for their plight, the freed and escaped African Diasporas met extremely harsh temperatures and some of the toughest land to cultivate in the region, often with little or no tools.
In the 1840s, the crown commenced surveying the land and priced it out of reach for black farmers, forcing them to abandon their homes, farms, schools, churches and what little community they had built. In the 1850s the government started offering those same properties to new Canadians for free. Neither my colleagues or friends had heard of Queens Bush Settlement, although we have lived here for many years.
Welcome, I'm Nicola Jane Thomas, I present nationally as an award wining Ecological Landscape Designer & Community Capacity Builder.
I have experienced the vast disparities in representation of African Diasporas in my personal and professional life.
I was 13 when my family emigrated from London, England to Oakville, Ontario, where I found myself immersed in a predominantly white community where I was perceived as lesser and at times a threat, because of my skin color. By my 18th birthday, 5 years after leaving my home, Canada felt like home. That same year, I won a human rights case against my employer for racial discrimination in the workplace. It was an intense and intimidating process for me as a youth.
I was born in 1969, at the height of the hippy era, to my Jamaican mother and my British father. My parents were on the cusp of an era when it was illegal to be together. They were radicals by proxy of their unwavering love for each other.
To Mum and Dad, this tour is a tribute to your love.
"Sankofa 100 Miles To Freedom Tour"
is a celebration, bringing awareness of the triumphs, resilience, perseverance and contributions of African Diaspora Women of Southwestern Ontario. In homage of the brave Warrior Grandmothers, whose names I do not know, but without whom I would not exist.
Join me for the good, the bad and all the in-between as I embark on this epic adventure, traveling the roads of Southwestern Ontario,
Vlogging with You in the passenger seat, sharing HerStories of food, culture and family.
~ Van Purchase & Build Out - (VanLife)
~ Art Collaboration - local black artists create the van mural
~ Camping fees
~ Marketing supplies
~ Toronto, Owen Sound, Sault Ste. Marie, London, Chatham, Hamilton, Buxton,
Brantford & Oakville, Ontario.
~ Abandoned Cemeteries & Settlements
Museums & Churches
~ Re-creating connections with Indigenous communites & our grandmothers
collective experiences of colonialism.
~ Between 1671 & 1834, Historian Marcel Trudel catalogued about
4,200 slaves in Canada of which two-thirds were Indigenous & one
third black, 163 years before emancipation.
"The fact that somebody is displeased is no evidence that we are wrong."
~ Mary Ann Shadd Cary 1854
Josiah Henson and his wife Nancy, Ontario, Canada, 1877, Submitter: Ernest D. Johnson, Jr., great-great-great-grandson
(From the family's collection.)
Unidentified woman, unknown photographer. 1860 to 1880. Tintype. Richard Bell Family Fonds, Brock University Archives. Photograph courtesy of Brock University Archives, Image, copyright of Art Gallery of Ontario
Mama's Silk Dress ~ Re-membering Ourselves
~ Nicola Jane 2020
Uncovering, Learning & Sharing HerStories With You