Heritage Matters

Heritage Matters – Spring 2018

Issue link: https://www.e-digitaleditions.com/i/988313

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Page 30 of 43

Heritage Matters 29 We've always been here: Black women's history of voting rights and politics in Canada By Natasha Henry The history of Black women's voting rights in Canada must be understood in the context of their evolving social status in the nation's preceding French and British colonies between 1600-1834 through to the 20th century. Enslaved and legally deemed chattel property (personal possessions), Black women and men were not legally "persons" with any rights or freedoms and thus could not vote. After the abolition of slavery in most British colonies in 1834, including those in what is now Canada, Black women's status changed to British subjects. While Black women were technically entitled to the rights, freedoms and privileges that their citizenship status carried, before 1917 that did not include the right to vote in provincial or federal elections. Black women get the vote Black women did not face legal barriers to voting because of their race, unlike other racialized women. Black women, like white women, were able to exercise the right to vote in the mid-19th century. Black women, married or single, could cast their vote for school trustees beginning in 1850 and in most Canadian municipal elections by 1900 as long as they met the general eligibility criteria. They had to be able to prove their citizenship status as British subjects and later Canadian citizens, born or naturalized and they had to own taxable property of a certain value. Limitations placed on [white] women voters in provincial and federal elections also applied to Black women until 1917. F 2076-16-5-1-38/Baptist Sunday School group in Amherstburg, Ontario, [ca. 1910], Alvin D. McCurdy fonds, Archives of Ontario, I0027813.

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