This is a black and white photograph taken of Mary Ann Shadd. By the appearance of the image, you can tell this photo was taken in the 19th-century. Shadd has a muted expression on her face, not showing much emotion, with her eyebrows down. Shadd is facing the camera directly and staring right into the camera. The background of the image is darker, while the facial features and the clothing depicted in the image appear lighter.
19th-century photograph taken of Mary Ann Shadd. Copyright to National Archives of Canada. Image obtained from: Parks Canada – Shadd, Mary Ann National Historic Person (

With the passing of Black History Month in February and International Woman’s Day on 8 March, I wanted to take the opportunity to honour an incredible individual who made enormous contributions to Black-Canadian and women’s rights in Canada. That individual is Mary Ann Camberton Shadd Cary, informally known as Mary Ann Shadd. Though not born in Canada (Shadd was born in Wilmington, Delaware), Shadd settled in Sandwich, Canada West in 1851 (now Windsor, ON) and would eventually open a racially integrated school, which was located on the grounds of what is now Windsor City Hall Square. This was where Shadd differed from many abolitionists at the time, she was decidedly anti-segregation.

Perhaps Shadd’s biggest contribution to the anti-slavery, anti-segregation, and women’s rights movements came on 24 March 1853 when she published the newspaper called The Provincial Freeman. This made Shadd the first Black woman in North America to publish a newspaper, as well as one of the first female journalists ever in Canada. Furthermore, The Provincial Freeman became Canada’s first anti-slavery newspaper.

With institutional racism towards the Black community still largely prevalent in Canada and with the Black Lives Matter movement still ongoing, I could not think of a more relevant historical figure to write about in a Canadian context than Mary Ann Shadd. I would like to see individuals like Shadd to be honoured more in Canadian spaces to highlight some of the amazing contributions that the Black community has made to Canadian society.

Photo taken in colour of Mary Ann Shadd's descendants posing in front of a bronze statue depicting Shadd holding her newspaper. There are 10 individuals posing in the picture, all from various age ranges. Surrounding the photo in the background is vibrant green grass. You can also see other individuals in the right background that are not intended to be in the picture. In the middle of the grass, there is a circular concrete slab and on top of that concrete, there is a concrete cylindrical platform where the statue stands. The statue of Shadd appears to be looking off into the distance.
Photo taken of various descendants of Mary Ann Shadd posing in front of a statue honouring Shadd in Windsor, Ontario. Copyright belongs to Jacob Barker. Image obtained from: Sculpture of Mary Ann Shadd, North America’s first Black female publisher, unveiled in Windsor, Ont. | CBC News.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: