Unearthing Black history in the mining industry in Canada – by John Sandlos (Canadian Mining – October 2, 2023)


In recent years, Black history in Canada has received growing attention, as topics such as slavery, civil rights struggles, the origins of Canadian hip hop, and Black labour struggles finally get their due. But what about Black people in the mining industry?

In the U.S., there are several excellent full-length books on Black miners, such as Joe William Trotter’s, Coal, Class, and Color; Robert Woodrum’s Everybody was Black Down There; and Sylvia Alden Roberts’ Mining for Freedom. In Canada, there is nothing of the sort.

The omission could reflect Black people’s low participation rates in the Canadian mining industry. After all, the Canadian government did everything it could to discourage Black immigration from the 1910s until the 1960s, coinciding with major periods of growth in mining activity. And for those Black people who did manage to settle in Canada, racist hiring practices and the labour movement’s exclusion of Black people produced a strict “colour line” in many workplaces.

On the other hand, we know that Black communities have existed adjacent to important mining regions in Nova Scotia and western Canada. Major questions about their historical relationship to the mining industry remain unanswered, though we do have some tantalizing historical material.

For the rest of this article: https://www.canadianminingjournal.com/featured-article/unearthing-black-history-in-the-mining-industry-in-canada/