Since the arrival of Black Loyalists in 1783, there have been settlers of African descent who have contributed greatly to the development of New Brunswick. Working ever so silently, without recognition or applause, families and communities have banded together to contribute in significant ways to the social enfranchisement of themselves and their neighbours; yet despite these positive developments, individuals of African descent continue to face oppression in this province.
This Exhibit will tell the dynamic story of Blacks who have struggled against servitude and oppression in the Fredericton region. Through artefacts, archival documents, individual and family stories, extracts from oral histories, newspaper accounts, and photographs, visitors will explore the historical roots of oppression, and learn about the ways in which citizens of African descent have responded with determination and perseverance. It has been a long journey of mixed feelings and emotions.
This is the story of York-Sunbury early Black settlers from 1783 to the present; It is a story of hope denied, hope restored, and hope that (for many) remains unfulfilled; these are their stories.
In proud recognition of National Emancipation Day, Our Black Heritage: Early Black Settlers of York-Sunbury Counties will open in the Fredericton Region Museum on August 1, 2021. We are honoured to be working in partnership with a long list of dedicated volunteers to make this project possible.
We are grateful to our partner institutions: Provincial Archives of New Brunswick, University of New Brunswick (Harriet Irving Library & Special Collections), Kings Landing Historical Settlement, New Brunswick Museum, St Peter’s Anglican Church, New Brunswick Black History Society, Black Lives Matter Fredericton, and the NB Film Coop.
We are also grateful to financial support provided by the Province of New Brunswick, City of Fredericton, Canadian Heritage, and the Canadian Museum of History (Digital Museums Canada).
In conjunction with the exhibit opening, the York-Sunbury Historical Society will also release a special (2 volume) issue of The Officers’ Quarters, highlighting in detail the achievements of Fredericton’s Black community. Honoured contributors will include nationally acclaimed writers Lawrence Hill (author of The Book of Negroes) and George Elliott Clarke.