Historian Deirdre McCorkindaleHistorian Deirdre McCorkindale will discuss the weaponization of Ontario’s Underground Railroad history in a public lecture Thursday.

Talk to explore mythologizing of Canadian racism

In a free public lecture Thursday, Feb. 1, Deirdre McCorkindale, an assistant professor of history at the University of Guelph, will look at Canada’s long legacy of mythologizing its history of Black settlement via the Underground Railroad in the 19th century, and how the view of Canada as a promised land free of racial strife has been weaponized and impacted Black Canadians.

Her title, “But it is not a British feeling: The Denial and Weaponization of Ontario's Underground Railroad History,” references an 1864 report on refugees from slavery in Canada West. The report contains an interview of a White Canadian by a White American abolitionist on the conditions of Black people who had settled in Canada, including the Windsor area.

“The Canadian conceded that there was anti-Black racism in Canada West but that it did not come from Canadians, who were considered British subjects at the time,” Dr. McCorkindale says. “Rather than looking inwards at Canada’s own issues, he chose to believe that the prejudice he saw came from somewhere else.”

Her lecture will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday in the SoCA Armouries, Performance Hall, 353 Freedom Way. For more information, contact history@uwindsor.ca.

Each February, the history department works with Essex County Black Historical Research Society president Irene Moore Davis and the University of Windsor to host a Black History Month speaker.

“Local Black history is the foundation of two major research projects in the history department,” notes department head Robert Nelson. “The McDougall Corridor Project undertaken by our MA student Willow Key, and the recently published book by Dr. Miriam Wright, Sporting Justice: The Chatham Coloured All-Stars and Black Baseball in Southwestern Ontario, 1915-1958.”

Visit the Amherstburg Freedom Museum website for more Black History Month events.