Black Meetings and Tourism

JAN/FEB 2012

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FAM REPORT #2 WINDSOR ESSEX PELEE ISLAND BY TREVOR DAVID F ollow the North Star to Windsor Essex Pelee Island. TodayWindsor, Ontario is a wonderful, beautiful and safe waterfront city across the river fromDetroit,Michigan and historically a major entry point into Canada for enslaved African- Americans seeking refuge from the inhuman and criminal systemof slavery. These enslaved African- Americans arrived via dozens of Underground Railroad routes stretching from the deep south into Michigan and across the River intoWindsor Essex County,Ontario,Canada. Many people including the vastmajority ofWhite and Black Canadians are not aware that Black peo- ple have been in Canada since 1604. The guide and interpreter to Samuel De Champlain the French Explorer who supposedly founded the City of Montreal, Quebec was a Black Portuguese named Mathieu Da Costa. How can one be a guide and interpreter to someone if they were not there before them?Well, that is a story for another time. Blacks are one of the founding peoples of Canada if the truth be told. However the victors and the powerful write history, so we only get His-Story and his version of events and the power- 46 less remain silent, unsung and buried in the grave of histo- ry for eternity unless dug up by those in the present to tell their story. Enslaved Afri- cans first came to Canada in signifi- cant numbers in the late 1700s prior to the Massa hoodwinked their enslaved Africans by promising them forty acres and a mule if they would help them get to Upper Canada. They needed their vic- tims' cooperation then to travel hun- dreds of miles thru bush and hostile ter- ritory. Massa was not stupid; he knew when American Revolutionary war. Slave owners sup- porting the British promised, threatened and cajoled their slaves/victims to coop- erate with them and move to Upper Canada, which was the British side of the North American continent. By and large to cut a deal with his human property. The vast majority were deceived and those that received some land were given swamp land and non-arable land, but they stayed and made the best of it becoming some of the first and earliest non-aboriginal settlers of South Western Ontario from Niagara Falls North to Windsor Essex County, Orillia and Oro Township, Barrie and Collingwood, etc. about 100 miles north of Toronto then known as the City of York now a part of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). They were also a significant part of Toronto. In the early to mid 1800s another wave came thru the Underground Railroad and settled in Windsor Essex County and the Chatham- Kent region, Niagara Falls, Hamilton, Oakville and Toronto. Windsor Essex Region is rich in Black Heritage and folklore as it was considered Freedom Land and a haven for free- dom seeking enslaved Africans. Windsor is a beautiful riverfront and border city to Detroit, Michigan sepa- rated by miles wide Detroit River. You can fly into Detroit and take a short drive under the river using the river tunnel or take the Ambassador Bridge to get to Canada or Canaan- Freedom Land as our ancestors called it. You can call Windsor and Detroit the twin cities as they mirror each other in many ways. However at one time, one side of the river represented hell for the Black man and the Black Meetings & Tourism January/February 2012:

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