Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Did you know . . .

. . .  that Vancouver Island has a rich history of Black pioneers?

Cairn commemorating the early Black pioneers of Vancouver Island
This cairn is located in the cemetery of Shady Creek United Church, 7180 East Saanich Rd, Saanichton, BC. It reads:

“Black Pioneers in British Columbia"

"In 1858, nearly 800 free Blacks left the oppressive racial conditions of San Francisco for a new life on Vancouver Island. Governor James Douglas had invited them here as promising settlers. Though still faced with intense discrimination, these pioneers enriched the political, religious and economic life of the colony. For example, Mifflin Gibbs became a prominent politician; Charles and Nancy Alexander initiated the Shady Creek Methodist Church; John Deas established a salmon cannery; and the group formed one of the earliest colonial militia units, the Victoria Pioneer Rifle Corps."

"Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada 1999”

I had the good fortune of meeting a descendent of Charles and Nancy Alexander while rambling through the Shady Creek United Church cemetery where this monument is located. She was a charming lady and very knowledgable regarding the Black history of BC.  Her ancestors founded this church.

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