About Us
Welcome to The Black Pioneers Descendant's Society!

Welcome to our new home on the web! Over time we will be developing this website to serve as a resource in fulfilling our Mission & Value Statement as well as providing a community portal for the enrichment of the descendant's the many great pioneering families to Canada.

With Black History Month upon us, there are a number of events we would like to draw your attention to.

First, there will be a kick off for Alberta's Black Pioneer Heritage Website that was developed in conjunction with AlbertaSource.ca highlighting Alberta's Black Pioneers. The offical launch will take place in the Heritage Room at city hall on February 4 @ 10:00am. You can read the full press release here.

Next, we will be hosting our 7th Annual Soul Food Dinner on February 9th at Londondary Hall. Door open @ 6:00pm, so if you love soul food, this is a great oprotunity to come get your grub on!

The Black Pioneer Heritage Singers will be recording a live performance along with local legends LeVero Carter "E-Town's Father of Gospel" and Agnes Brown "Our Own Shirley Caesar" at the McDougall United Church (10025- 101 St) on February 29th at 8:00pm. Tickets available at TixOntheSquare.ca.

Here is a great addition to Black History Month this year. There is an art show featuring 5 talented Black Artists titled ONE LOVE. Opening Premiere is Feb 2, 12 noon to 4:00 p.m. The art show will run from Feb 2 to Mar 5th, at the TU Gallery, 10718-124 Steet in Edmonton.

The featured artists are:

  • Darren Jordan
  • Lisa Mayes
  • Karla Andrew
  • Shumba Ash
  • Richard Lipscombe
Each will bring their own unique background origin and artistic styles celebrating the diversity within our own community. Come out and show your support and help make this a Annual event.

Please take a look at the Events section for more details. We hope to see you there!

History of the Black Pioneer Descendants

Many Black Pioneers came from the Oklahoma area, which was then considered "Indian/Free Territory". This title allowed a modicum of freedom to both Native Americans and Blacks to co-exist within the state. The state then enacted "Jim Crow" laws, (which upheld discrimination) so the Blacks looked North to Canada for refuge. The pioneering families believed that life in Canada would be a better life; they were spurred onward to the underdeveloped Prairies of the West by the enticement of cheap land. In approximately 1898, the Government of Canada changed its immigration policies to encourage settlement on the prairies and forests of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

Many Nationalities answered the call, African-Americans included. Although reasons for leaving the United States were many, injustice and discrimination were the reasons that Blacks moved to Western Canada. The Pioneers originated from different states such as Texas, California, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and Illinois before gathering in Oklahoma. As their hopes for better treatment in Oklahoma disappeared, they moved to Canada.

Black Pioneers Arrive in Canada

When the Canadian Government advertised for settlers, they were unprepared for the influx of African-Americans to the Prairies. Unfortunately, once the Black Pioneers arrived in Canada, they were not welcomed with open arms by the white society. The immigration policy offering cheap land was targeted to White Americans and their settlement in Canada. When large numbers of Blacks began populating the Prairies, resentment against the minority grew. For the Black Pioneers, it was a sad repeat of the same discrimination found in America. Although Canadians were perceived as the kinder, gentler European, their ignorance of minority cultures was matched only by their covert and overt discriminative practices of law, which stemmed from this ignorance. An example of this was the restrictions placed on the number of Blacks allowed into Western Canada.

Between 1905-1912 the Canadian borders were open for immigrants and during this period many of the Black Pioneer families journeyed North. These laws restricting Blacks effectively halted the exodus from the United States to Western Canada. Most immigrants arrived in those early days by train or horse-and-wagon while entering through Saskatchean and Manitoba. Many settled in Saskatchewan in the Maidstone-Eldon districts, while others traveled to Alberta and established Amber Valley (NorthEast of Edmonton), Campsie (in the Barrhead area), Junkins (now Wildwood), and Keystone (now Breton).

These were primarily Black communities established by our Pioneers. They left the United States as a multi-skilled, educated group. These skills ranged from farmers to teachers, doctors, nurses, ministers and businessmen. The families began farming in order to stake claim and to meet government requirements for landownership. In the beginning, the Black farmers owned huge parcels of land in Alberta, however a down turn in the Canadian economy caused many Blacks to lose the land they settled. After a few generations later, Black families started leaving the Black settlements and moving into the cities in search of employment.

Blacks found job opportunities in limited supply. Some went into business for themselves with cafes, hotels, rooming houses, or barbershops. Some men found work with the railroad companies as porters and some women accepted domestic position. Many Blacks spread to the other urban centers in Western Canada. We are now in our fifth and sixth generations as Canadians. The Black families who descended from those first early Pioneers are still here today. We are growing, thriving and prospering. We will continue to proudly carry on the legacy our great-grandparents started -- striving for higher ground, never forgetting.

[Written by: Alison Crawford]

Copyright (c) 2008 Black Pioneer Descendant's Society.