The Story

The Institute for the Study of Canadian Slavery is a Canadian and international first: a university-based research institute focused on

  • exploring Canada’s complex 200-year history of Transatlantic Slavery
  • locating, digitizing, and sharing relevant historical evidence
  • understanding the social and cultural impacts of Transatlantic Slavery and its legacies
  • identifying and developing ways to share and preserve this unknown history

The Institute is being developed by its inaugural director Dr. Charmaine A. Nelson as part of the Tier I Canada Research Chair (CRC) in Transatlantic Black Diasporic Art and Community Engagement awarded to her in 2020.

The Institute is one of only a handful of academic research centres focused on the study of Transatlantic Slavery, and it is the only one with the potential to impact academic, artistic, cultural, and lay communities through its location at NSCAD University. At NSCAD, the Institute will support artists-in-residence, research fellows, and academic curriculum in its mandate areas.

A List of Negroes on Hope Plantation in St. Andrews (1788), paper, ST West Indies Box

Influencing contemporary media is integral to broadening public awareness and an understanding of the complex history of Canadian Slavery because academic literature on slavery is inaccessible to most people. However, many have been exposed to these histories from watching movies like Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained (2012), Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave (2013), or CNN’s Lincoln: Divided we Stand (2021).

These well-funded, substantial films were made by Americans about American Slavery. There is currently no comparable media to teach Canadians about the slavery that transpired on our soil.

The Institute will change that by sharing the complex story of Canadian Slavery.

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“No man can put a chain about the ankle of his fellow man without at last finding the other end fastened about his own neck.”

Frederick Douglass, formerly enslaved, self-liberated man, abolitionist, born in Maryland, USA (1818 – 1895)