Stories

Ah-Yin’s Chinese Persons’ Street or Amy’s Chinatown

Amy Wong

I want to share my personal history of growing up in one of Edmonton’s Chinatowns in the 1970s. The Chinatown,…

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Changing Social Conditions, Occupations & Immigration

Dr. Jennifer Kelly

During this time, we begin to see a change in the demographics of the Alberta-based African-Canadian community as folks who came from the United States in the early 1900s begin to encounter people recently arrived from the United States, often as athletes, and those who were arriving in increasing numbers from the Caribbean.

“Our Negro Citizens” Newspaper Columns

Dr. Jennifer Kelly

“Our Negro Citizens” (ONC) was a weekly column in the Edmonton Journal and Edmonton Bulletin in the early 1920s. It was written by Reverend Geo. W. Slater Jr., pastor of the Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal (EAME) church in Edmonton.

Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters

Dr. Jennifer Kelly

Beginning in 1939, American A. Philip Randolph visited Canada to assist with organizing an International section of the U.S.-based Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (BSCP). The catalyst for this separate organization of workers was the racism that employees of African descent faced on the railway.

Arrivals in Late 1800s

Dr. Jennifer Kelly

Initially, African-Canadians made their way to the North-West Territories as individual pioneers or accompanying traders. Most were attempting to make a living from the fur trade and found employment with companies such as the Hudson’s Bay Company.

1960s: Emigration from the Caribbean

Dr. Jennifer Kelly

Before the early 1960s, few immigrants of African descent were allowed into Canada. Because of racist white preferred immigration rules and regulations, “admittance of ‘coloured or partly coloured persons’ was restricted to certain classes of close relatives of Canadian citizens and cases deemed as having exceptional merit.”

Alberta’s Early Black Settlements

Dr. Jennifer Kelly

Many Black immigrants who came to Alberta as family groups in the early 1900s had previously lived in Oklahoma Territory alongside the Five Civilized Tribes (Cherokee, Creek, Seminole, Chickasaw, Choctaw). Following the creation of the state in 1907, Black residents faced increased levels of discrimination through segregation laws and voter disenfranchisement.

ONC: Capturing Everyday Life & Challenging Stereotypes

Dr. Jennifer Kelly

While life during this period was vibrant it must also be recognized that stereotyping by mainstream society was apparent and affected levels of expectations, as well as the employment prospects, of many of these Black citizens. The ONC column took a strong stance on issues of racism and social exclusion regarded as “drawing the colour line.”

Sustained Opposition to Black Immigration

Dr. Jennifer Kelly

Newspapers frequently reported negatively on the arrivals of Black immigrants from the United States, including the Edmonton Bulletin, Edmonton Journal, and Calgary Eye Opener. The first group of Blacks to arrive were noted rather disparagingly by one newspaper, “It was in 1908 that the first party arrived from the cotton fields of Oklahoma and settled along the Grand Trunk Pacific, the largest settlement being at Chip Lake.”

Emigration of Teachers from the Caribbean to Alberta, 1960s

Dr. Jennifer Kelly

Within the larger group of Caribbean immigrants there were a number of internationally educated teachers who came from different islands in order to fill the need for teachers in Alberta.

Social Exclusion

Dr. Jennifer Kelly

In the early 1900s, Black pioneers in Alberta often saw themselves as proud Canadian citizens and British subjects. However, they faced and fought exclusion from several aspects of Canadian life ranging from serving in the Canadian Expeditionary Forces to local theatres to swimming pools and access to housing.

Homecoming: After the End of the First World War

Adriana A. Davies

The end of war on November 11, 1918, made headlines in Edmonton’s newspapers: The Morning Bulletin noted: “GERMANY ACCEPTS TERMS”;…

Armistice 1918

Adriana A. Davies

When war was declared on August 4, 1914, men from the Edmonton region rushed to join up. Edmonton had two…