The Power of the Pen: The Petitions of Thomas Peters and the Quest for Black Rights in Canada and the Atlantic World with Dr. Afua Cooper

Feb. 16, 2022 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM

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Presented by the Chester Ronning Centre, in partnership with Augustana Campus and the Faculty of Arts.

This event will detail the history of Thomas Peters. Peters fled slavery to freedom and fought on the side of the British during the American Revolutionary War. As a result, he earned the status of Black Loyalist, and in 1784, at the end of the war, was transported to Nova Scotia. The British promised land, tools, provisions, and full equality with Whites for all the Black Loyalists. But in Nova Scotia and later New Brunswick, the British betrayed the promises they made to the Black Loyalists, and reduced them to a state of deprivation, subjugation, and sometimes slavery. Outraged and disappointed, Peters took up the case of his community, and through a series of petitions called on the colonial governments of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia to make good on the promises made by the Crown. When the colonial governors turned a deaf ear, Peters travelled to London, England to plead the cause of the Black Loyalists to the imperial government. Likewise, in London, he wrote a series of petitions outlining the grievance of the Black community, and revealing the various manifestations colonial anti-Black racism. While in London, Peters was presented with the opportunity for the Black Loyalists to migrate to Sierra Leone to start a new colony on the West African coast. He travelled back to Canada and organized the exodus from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to Sierra Leone.


About the Speaker:

Dr. Afua Cooper is a multidisciplinary scholar, author, and artist. Her 13 books range across such genres as history, poetry, fiction, and children’s literature. Her indomitable research on slavery, and Black history has made her one of the leading figures in African Canadian studies, and the authority on Canadian slavery. Her book on Canadian slavery, The Hanging of Angelique: The Untold Story of Slavery in Canada and the Burning of Old Montreal broke new ground in the study of Canadian and Atlantic slavery. Afua Cooper currently teaches in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Dalhousie University, where she holds a Killam Research Chair.


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