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As many as 30,000 fugitive slaves reached freedom in Canada from the Southern United States within the years before the Civil War. Fugitives were aided by sympathetic people along the Underground Railroad, and 300 were led by American abolitionist Harriet Tubman who made St. Catharines, Ontario her home base to build a network of supporters, and for her 19 trips from Maryland to Ontario. However, the history taught about the Underground Railroad often stops at the border because so many educators lack information about the lives of newly settled Black Canadians. What happened to them? Some contemporary issues of Black Canadians are rooted in this journey North. Through a discussion with Ontario Black History Society's President and Black Canadian history curriculum consultant, Natasha Henry, this webinar will provide context for the diverse Black experiences in Canada from historical experiences to the present day. Participants will receive resources, websites, and lesson plans to bring back to their classroom.
Natasha Henry is an educator, historian, and curriculum consultant, specializing in the development of learning materials that focus on the African Diasporic experience. She is the author of Firsts (2014), which was awarded the Gold Medal Moonbeam Children's Book Awards for Multicultural Non-Fiction as part of the Sankofa Black Heritage Collection. Natasha is also the author of The African Diaspora (2015), Early Societies: Africa, China, and Europe (2013), Talking About Freedom: Celebrating Freedom in Canada (January 2012), and Emancipation Day: Celebrating Freedom in Canada (June 2010). Natasha has contributed several entries to the Canadian Encyclopedia on African Canadian history. She has developed the educational resources for several exhibits and web-based projects on the Black experience in Canada, including the Harriet Tubman Institute's We Stand on Guard for Thee: Teaching and Learning the African Canadian Experience in the War of 1812 and the CBC miniseries The Book of Negroes. She recently completed Masters Major Research Project, Lend me Your Ear: the Voice of Early African Canadian Communities in Ontario through Petitions, which investigates the current state of the teaching of African Canadian history in elementary and secondary public schools. Her MRP includes a curriculum unit developed around six petitions penned by individuals and groups of African Canadians with the intent of bringing the voices, opinions, and experiences of African Canadians into classrooms, as a way to model how the African Canadian counter-narrative can be incorporated within the existing curricular framework. Natasha Henry is currently completing a Ph.D. in History at York University, researching the enslavement of African people in early Ontario. Through her various professional, academic, and community roles, Natasha's work is grounded in her commitment to research, collect, preserve, and disseminate the histories of Black Canadians through the website she maintains, Teaching African Canadian History.