A new book is shedding a light on the history of slavery in the province.
“Black Harbour”, written by Xaiver Campbell and Heather Barrett, tells the history of slavery and black people in Newfoundland and Labrador, a part of the province’s history that is not often talked about.
The project came together as Campbell and Barrett’s paths crossed while both researching the topic independently.
Campbell says Newfoundland did not have the same plantation slavery as was seen in the Caribbean and the United States, but it was very much present.
We just signed a big addition to our fall 2023 catalogue.
Black Harbour: Slavery and the Forgotten Histories of Black People in Newfoundland & Labrador by Xaiver Campbell and Heather Barrett explores uncomfortable and largely unknown parts of our history.#ReadAtlantic pic.twitter.com/ouBmqCCLhE
— Boulder Books (@Boulder_Books) May 2, 2023
He says they’ve seen mentions of people coming through the province who were owned by settlers in the province. He says it wasn’t abundant, but there are instances of enslaved people on the island.
As for how few know of Newfoundland and Canada’s history of slavery, Barrett says it can be uncomfortable to have those discussions.
She says it is a horrible thing for people to face that their ancestors may have been involved in slavery, but as their research shows, wherever there was colonization, there was slavery.
The first step in reconciling with that past, says Campbell, is to put it in the public conscious. He says there needs to be lasting movements to draw more attention to it.
“Black Harbour” is available in bookstores in the province now.