Tag Archives: Canada

Ancestral Journeys: The Black Loyalists, Canada, and the Specter of Racism

Following the end of the American Revolutionary War in 1783 (Treaty of Paris) some 40,000+ British Loyalists withdrew from the newly formed United States of America to settle in various parts of the British Province of Quebec and the Colony of Nova Scotia.

Among their numbers were some 3,000 Afro-American Loyalists.

These settled primarily in Nova Scotia.

You might have heard of them within the context of the modern political narrative; of their unfair and/or inadequate treatment by the Crown; of the race riots that took place in Nova Scotia between the Loyalists; and of their subsequent petitioning of a rough third of those black Loyalists to the Crown for resettlement in some more hospitable climes. This petition was acknowledged and granted, resulting in the founding of Freetown, Sierra Leone in West Africa.

We hear much less of course of the stress, the hardships, the suffering and frustration, that all of the Loyalists were under those first couple of years; already disheartened (to say the least) at having come up on the losing side of the war. And thus being forced to abandon the lands of their birth and upbringing, along with most if not all of their worldly possessions. And then to be effectively dropped in the middle of the vast North American wilderness, to watch one’s loved ones go hungry when the promised rations did not come in, and then to meet with typical government ineptitude and inefficiency in the surveying and assigning of land.

Naturally, people were a little bit stressed. And so things got out a little out of hand. At least here and there.  And on an occasion or two. With both sub-groups of Loyalists giving and receiving their collective lumps.

These things can happen among men; who can afterwards be men about it.

See the source image

We also don’t hear too much today about how the 2,000 odd Afro-American Loyalists that remained in British North America fared after the departure of the fellows for Sierra Leone. You know, once order was brought to the chaos, foundation established, and folks settled into the patterns of their new lives and homelands. On this point the site blackloyalist.com states,

Economically, the Black Community’s position showed improvement within the decade. Many Blacks completed their indenture terms and more Blacks working as apprentices began to qualify for trades. By 1812, employers could not find enough Blacks to fill available work and wages rose accordingly. During the war of 1812, Blacks volunteered in militia and formed three separate Black Corps.

Now, as a descendant of the District of Mecklenburg Loyalists, I was a little taken aback by some of the complaints made, by people today I must assume, regarding the treatment of the black Loyalists. After all, we white Loyalists were also settled along ethnic and religious lines. We also starved the first few years. Some of us also left. We were also sent essential equipment that was entirely inadequate. In the case of some of us, receiving hatchets rather than proper axes as part of our initial supplies, with land needing clearing, cabins needing building, and winter quite literally coming. We also had to wait on surveys and deal with bungles, while the officers got better and more land. Some of us got lots (of land) that were basically useless. And we were also, particularly us Bay of Quinte folk, about as far as you could get outside of the established supply chain and still be considered part of it, ie. up two weeks (wilderness) travel, round trip.

We all had it hard.

But what really struck me from the quote above was the mention of trades, employers, and wages!

Seriously???

We didn’t have those things in 1812 Hastings county.

Maybe they had them in Kingston.

In fact, many of us fell into illiteracy for a generation or two, as we put our nose to the grind of simple survival and working toward the kind of prosperity that, in due time, ushers in things like trades, jobs, wages, and literacy. We bartered in labour with our neighbours and newcomers, and being so inconveniently situated in the supply chain, we were regularly low-balled by the merchants when we brought our produce to market; which is something I hear we made up for during the War of 1812.

But the point is that once we made it through the hard years, that were hard on all of us Loyalists, those that remained got our feet on the ground, settled and prospered.

While Afro-Americans are a rare sight in the historical records of the Bay of Quinte region (aka the District of Mecklenburg), they do appear here and there, and in much the same manner and capacity as most any other person in the region; being named in the censuses, being baptized, getting married, etc. As for Afro-American slaves, they simply were not a significant thing, as such, among us. It is said that Major Vanalstine brought some up with him after the war, but by 1793 the Act Against Slavery was passed in the second legislative assembly of Upper Canada, effectively Anglo-Canada, which prohibited the introduction of any more slaves into the colony, required that any existing offspring born to a slave woman be released upon reaching the age of 25 years, and even forbade voluntary submission to the state of slavery. And of course by 1834 the British parliament passed its Slavery Abolition Act which effectively brought an end to the institution within the British Empire.

And note here that slavery was a default institution found in all human societies; European, Asian, African, American, no matter. And it was the English that abolished it. Not the Coast Salish or Bantu peoples. Not the Jews or the Arabs or the Chinese. And for that matter, not the Greeks or the French or the Germans. Or even the Danes.

The English abolished slavery.

Everyone followed in our footsteps. Or in the case of the Arabs and of modern Africans themselves, they didn’t follow in our footsteps and slavery is still practiced in those regions today.

And I say this all with the grudging addition that the decision was inspired in no small part by Christian principles and long-standing Christian tradition; though we were hardly the only nation in the world to have been Christian at the time. Or Germanic for that matter!

And moreover, it came at monumental expense to us. And not simply in economic terms, but in pure flesh and blood human terms as well.

And from there, it was all downhill, with Canada’s Afro-American communities growing strong, stable, and self-sufficient, able to boast their own achievers and achievements, on through Confederation and into the 20th century. And this has left the authors of racial division having to stray off into immigration policy by this point  in order to build even the semblance of an argument for “Canadian racism” and all the word “racist” implies (or at least used to) to your average Anglo-Canadian of the 20th and 21st centuries.

While a 1911 declaration by Wilfred Laurier placed the immigration of any “negros” into the country on moratorium, this was largely because the Eastern Europeans, as a result of native climate, culture, and associated breeding, were deemed more fit to the task of developing the cold, windswept lands of the Canadian prairies. And of course within a decade a wave of “negro” immigration began to roll in from the Caribbeans all the same.

In fact, over the next 100 years to present, Canada has received over 800,000 black immigrants; with Jamaica and Haiti being its main sources, both overall and early on, and African countries coming more into vogue over the last few of decades.

Presently, less than 9% of the Afro-Canadian population is comprised of native Loyalists and other pioneering Afro-Americans of the late 18th and 19th centuries.

A full 91% of Canada’s Afro-Canadian population (1.2 million) is comprised of first or second generation immigrants; which will be the case for 50% of all Canadians by 2036 and, with the goal of hitting population 100 million by 2100, shall (ahem) “define” Canada by the end of the century.

Which brings us back around to the prevailing narrative that Canada is “racist to the core”.

Quite simply, while Canada is by no means perfect, as the prevailing political situation makes abundantly evident, the mere suggestion that it is racist, and specifically racist against black people, is entirely laughable and completely unfounded outside of isolated minutia and statistical games of smoke and mirrors. Not to diminish any tragedies any specific families or individuals might have actually suffer, or to turn a blind eye to honest statistics and/or specific incidences that should gives us all cause for concern, but the fact that horrible things happen in Canada, even for horrible reasons, is not evidence that Canada is thus a horrible country.

Over 800,000 black people did not chose to immigrate to Canada throughout its history to date because it is a horrible country that treats blacks poorly. Unless of course we are to assume that they were all incapable of making intelligent decisions? In fact, when compared to such black dominant, black policed, black ruled countries as Jamaica or Haiti, or even the “Rainbow Nation” itself (South Africa), a black person still enjoys more far more freedom from violence and oppression, along with a general higher standard of living and availability of opportunity here in Canada.

While I cannot find information on the homicide rate of Afro-Canadians in specific, it seems fair to assume that it is below the 4.22 (per 100,000) reported for First Nations women in 2017. Using that as our (admittedly questionable) number, this would still rank Canada as a statistically safer country to be black in than 33 out of the 54 odd countries that make up the vast continent of Africa. And of those 21 “safer” countries we find a motley assortment of predominantly Arab-Berber (ie. not black) North African countries, British ruled countries, happily small and homogeneous countries, and others that more than make up for their low homicide rates with state corruption and blatant violations of human rights.

Of the 18 African and Caribbean countries that Canada has actually drawn significant numbers (ie. 10,000+) of immigrants from, only four have lower homicide rates than the above number assumed for blacks in Canada, and they are themselves otherwise characterized by a dominant Arab-Berber demographic, and/or by wide-spread corruption and gross human rights violations. The other 14 range from somewhat more dangerous to much more dangerous, to the excessively more dangerous of Jamaica (murder rate 43.85 in 2018) and South Africa (murder rate 36.4 in 2018).

But speaking of Africa, remember those Loyalists that left British North America to found Freetown? Well, getting back to them and things we don’t hear too much about, we don’t hear too much about how they fared in their new African home. We hear virtually nothing for instance about how the black Loyalists were greeted upon arrival by lethal attacks from the indigenous (black) population of the region. But really, feel free to look into the history of Freetown yourself if you’re so inclined, and beyond citing its seemingly modest homicide rate of 1.71 in 2015, I’ll leave it at this quote from the site statecrime.org and its article Introducing State Crime in Sierra Leone,

…long before the conflict (civil war), Sierra Leone had a history of corrupt regimes, the violent suppression of civil society, and state sponsored theft of national resources… Since the end of the conflict Sierra Leone has been regularly highlighted for acute levels of poverty and high rates of corruption. With a high infant mortality rate, a low life expectancy, and overwhelming unemployment, only in 2009 was Sierra Leone elevated from the bottom of the Human Development Index… according to the World Bank governance indicators, unemployment is increasing, while control of corruption and government effectiveness have been steadily decreasing since 2003. This is despite the creation of an Anti-Corruption Committee (ACC) that is tasked with monitoring and stamping out corruption… in recent years there has been an alarming trend towards ethnic based violence.

So, while Canada cannot be said to be without racism, because no country can, a few things are clearly in view for the astute (and not so astute) observer to plainly see. First and foremost, that far from being racist against blacks, Canada is, by any holistic standard, one of the best places in the world for a black man, and especially a black woman, to live. And two, that if significant racism does exist in Canada, most poignantly of the state endorsed variety, it exists against both First Nations and Founding Nations; the former of whom are due to be dealt with separately as the unique case they are, and latter of whom are experiencing it straight across the West, within their own ethnic homelands, and in direct contravention of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The UNRIP conveniently redefines the word indigenous to purposefully exclude ethnic Europeans in Europe. And this despite the fact that even the Anglo-Saxons for example have been in the British Isles for considerably longer than,say, the Thule-Inuit have been in the Canadian arctic, while the Normans have been in the British Isles themselves for considerably longer than the Bantu have been in South Africa. And finally, it is obvious that if racism is Canada’s biggest problem, then there are clearly exponentially bigger problems a country can have than “racism”.

Such as “whatever it is” that results in a homicide rate of 30+ for example or leads the world in child rape!

Not to in any way imply, as I trust is evident from my various blog entries here, any kind of blind faith in the state. Including the state of Canada. As a 21st century man of Anglo-Nordic heritage I don’t need to be told, by any one, about the dangers of an overweening and self-entitled state; much less by those marching in full goosestep to the beat of the prevailing doctrine of the (globalist) state. Our history as Anglo-Nordic peoples with the state goes way back. And even in the earliest of preChristian times a delicate balance of power existed between our proto-state/s and the folk; in which authority led more by respect born from example and less by command/power; in which the folk sat down at assembly armed; where, outside of the most extreme of crimes, the law was largely civil and fine-based; and where in the words of Tacitus, “good habits are (here) more effectual than good laws elsewhere“.

There is of course no wishing the “wolf of the state” out of existence. That genie has long since been let out of the bottle, and there is a world full of competing states, along with a host of wouldbe warlords, all mouths agape, that would promptly step in to fill any power vacuum left by its absence.  And indeed the wolf of the state is not without its objective virtues; even if they have generally tended to come via serendipity, required a heck of a lot of work and foresight, and violence and hardship, to beat into an moderately acceptable shape, and always carries with it a host of inherent dangers and evils that must constantly be watched and held to account lest it over-step its bounds and begin devouring its charges and contravening its very reason to exist.

We Anglo-Nordic folk are no strangers to historical injustices perpetuated against us by the state, and particularly by the elitist imperial/colonial/globalist state, from whose standpoint we Celto-Germanic peoples were among the first in a very long and very ethno-culturally diverse line/web of “savages” who “needed” to be civilized by any means necessary.

No, no.

I’m a pro-gun, small state, honest celebrant of true diversity kinda guy.  With an inherent, but nevertheless healthy mistrust of the state; so necessary to capitalize, in human currency, on the state’s functional value in the face of the greater world.

The abuse of power, the excessive use of force by the state on its citizens is everyones concern. The seriousness and ramifications of such affronts are done a grave disservice in the racialization of the issue, in which the BLM rhetoric regarding “standing as allies” against it involves, as requisite, that one condemn not only themselves, but their ancestors, and even their new born children as over-privileged, hate filled racists. And, well, that isn’t going to happen. And personally, that is the exact opposite direction that the current of my life has been carrying me, and the exact same direction the current of history has been carrying my folk (and yours) along in for almost 1400 years now.  And that kind of divisiveness from BLM and its ilk, in the face of such a serious and all-inclusive affront, is exactly what the wouldbe tyrant ordered.

If these types truly cared one wit about black lives, they wouldn’t be preaching to the converted about the value of life, muchless making mass generalizations based on skin tone. They would be carrying their message and directing their resources to where they are truly necessary; namely, the black populations of such places as Toronto, Chicago, and South Africa, as well as the snake-oil politicians, entertainment moguls, and social justice fanatics that promote thug-culture, attribute the characteristics of success and failure to skin colour, and sow the seeds of hatred and division both within racial groups and among we, the people.

“A king’s son… an uppity thrall… none should be so trusting as to trust in these.”

— the Havamal

Freedom

Freedom. It is an interesting word. A word that has been with the various Anglo-Nordic peoples since (at least) the dawning of Proto-Germanicism, which, like Celticism, was the only branch of the greater Indo-European tree that developed the notion out of a root (*pri-) that originally meant “beloved”.

This is the same root that we get the word friend from incidentally.

One might think of the development of the word free — from “beloved” to “not in bondage” — in terms of, say, who you would have as a room-mate in your home. Or who you would invite to home-sit for you while you were away on some extended trip. In short, in terms of who you would grant the freedom of your home to. And the answer is of course, to one’s beloved, to one’s friend/s, to those who are trustworthy and so can be trusted to conduct themselves as you yourself would; and who are thus free to “act as they will” (ie. in a beloved, friendly manner) within one’s home.

Certainly, one could argue that such a state isn’t exactly “unburdened by constraint”, but it is not a conscious matter of legalities and/or a check-list of criteria either. Friendship and the freedom that walks hand-in-hand with it are mostly organic evolutions, the unconscious attraction of like to like, such that among friends there is not a feeling, much less a manifestation of constraint. Each are acting, unrestrained according to their own habits of conduct, as they please. It’s just that the conduct that pleases one is also the conduct that pleases the other, eg. I don’t have to demand that you wash your dishes because you dislike dishes piling up just like me and act accordingly.

A common thew is shared between friends, and in a broader cultural sense between the free; thew being an Old English (and uniquely West Germanic) word that means “custom, habit, morals, conduct” and carries implications of “sinew, muscle, strength”, acting as what we today might call “social fabric”.

One could thus easily say that, like friendship and freedom, thew and freedom walk hand-in-hand; though again one is forced to acknowledge that thew doesn’t necessarily leave the individual “free of constraint” in any universal or objective manner, and contains within itself an implicit set of criteria which, if not organically met, will certainly leave a new-comer feeling constrained, a long-stander ashamed, and in either case, as the odd-one-out.

“Everyone! Look! There’s Johnny!!! He has no clothes on!!!”

Freedom it would thus seem is something of a relative state, that comes with implicit constraints that are most apt to be imparted and enforced socially, organically. Indeed, by the reckoning of our ancestors — in fact by the reckoning of common sense — freedom had no effective existence outside of social interactions and relationships, outside of human society, and was a thing that could only be achieved in relation to one’s fellow man.

To be free meant, to our ancestors, the freedom to take part in society; shouldering it’s obligations and benefiting from it’s privileges.

In contrast to the free, our ancestors had, not so much the thrall or slave, much less the young — both of which had no rights under law, but nevertheless benefited from the rights and freedoms enjoyed by their owners or adult relations — but rather the wretch, who, regardless of his degree of self-sufficiency, was left without either law or loved ones to shield him and secure his rights, to care for him in sickness and/or old age, and who was left to contend with the merciless tyranny of nature and any man or group of men that wanted to work ill-will upon him. And whose line would, at best, end with him, or alternately, produce offspring who would be damned to a wretched life of loneliness, hopelessness, and perhaps even inbred dysfunction.

As the Havamal poem says, “Man rejoices in man”. Likewise the Old English Rune Poem.

This freedom to take part in society, as a member of society, was imparted by our Anglo-Nordic ancestors at the tribal assembly, the (ahem) “state” assembly, as noted as early as Tacitus, who wrote,

Then in the presence of the council one of the chiefs, the young man’s father, or some kinsman, equips him with a shield and a spear. These arms are what the “toga” is with us, the first honour with which youth is invested. Up to this time he is regarded as a member of a household, after-wards as a member of the commonwealth.”

It can also be gleaned in the respect of the indigenous Germanic state for freedom and thew, as seen in it’s largely fine based system of crime and punishment. Their system of crime and punishment was itself a manifestation of Anglo-Nordic thew, representing one aspect of our shared customs and habits of conflict resolution; a thew evolved to deal with the inevitable sprains and tears in thew, which, as such, remained largely in the hands of the people and their locality, to be used or not used, used well or poorly, as the participants saw fit, and in which the state played little to no role. This led to the characterization of the Icelandic gothar for example as being “lazy” and/or (ahem) “too permissive” in regards to the conduct of their folk, ie. “too respectful” of their freedom. Only in the most severe of cases, such as deeds which threatened to undermine the collective trust, eg. secret killing, was the state empowered to mete out more familiar legal punishments such as flogging, imprisonment or execution. This attitude extended to military service outside of a certain distance from one’s own locality among the Anglo-Saxons. No law could be invoked to oblige a man to take part in his king’s call to muster or force a man to go aviking; though thew might well prompt a man to do so at least once in his youth. Whatever the case, as a matter of both law and thew no man would be forgiven for failing to rise to the defense his own locality and he would be dealt with very harshly, be it by law or mob, and understandably so I would think, by his neighbours within that locality for refraining to do so.

It can also be seen in the beliefs and functioning of the Germanic hierarchy as well; in which the free could fall into thralldom (play at dice anyone?), the thrall win his freedom, and being the firstborn of the reigning king vouchsafed one nothing. As the Havamal states, a king’s son, an uppity thrall, none should be so trusting as to trust in these. Unlike the caste structure of our fellow Indo-European belief system, Hinduism, the indigenous Germanic hierarchy was dynamic rather than static, and while ancestry certainly meant something, the ability of the individual was given it’s rightful due. And the right of even a thrall to self-rule — not to mention basic obligation of self-sufficiency — under his own roof-tree was recognized and observed; albeit by thew rather than by law.

The problem with freedom in this post-modern world is a lack of thew, a lack of common identifiers, and the self-regulation that comes with it. And it was toward the notion of thew in general that Tacitus was speaking when he wrote, “good habits are here more effectual than good laws elsewhere.”, and provide the real reason why, among the Anglo-Saxons for example, state executions were so rare (ie. based on an examination of felon graveyards).

Not strong laws, but strong thew.

Freedom flows upward, out of the soil, into the sole’s of one’s feet, and throughout one’s entire being. And only then can it, not so much descend, from “on high” as it were, from the state, as simply turn about, reflect and affirm, that which gave it life and upon which it’s continued vitality relies. Freedom does not come from political institutions, laws, or intellectualized social constructs or ideologies.

Freedom comes from the habits of a people. From thew. Or not at all. And thew cannot be all things to all people. It cannot be intellectualized and instilled. It evolves through local, first person interaction.