The miniseries The Book of Negroes, based on the acclaimed novel by Lawrence Hill, and filmed in Nova Scotia, traces the journey of Aminata Diallo, who is taken by slave traders from West Africa to the U.S., her life through the American Revolution, escape to Canada (Nova Scotia near Shelbourne) and her ultimate freedom in England.
Does this have any relevance to the Antigonish experience? Yes. Around the same time that Aminata Diallo was making her way via the Underground Railway from the US to Nova Scotia, the first permanent official European settlement of Antigonish was underway (1784). Colonel Timothy Hierlihy and his part of disbanded soldiers and refugees from the American Revolution landed at Town Point. Among the original inhabitants of the newly-established community of Dorchester were 76 men, 12 women, 14 children and 18 black “servants.”
And what does this have to do with healthy community. We believe that a healthy community knows its history, and acknowledges the social injustices alongside its glories of community-building.
Stay tuned to this site for our plans to dramatize this first settlement of Antigonish as a participatory pilgrimage. Pilgrimage will serve as truth and reconciliation, and not gloss over our historical complicity in the slave trade. You will notice that the re-enactment of the Hierlihy Landing in 1984, the 200th anniversary, did not feature any black “servants.”