Engaging ideas, transforming minds
Engaging ideas, transforming minds
Women’s Press,Canadian Scholars’ Press
273 pages
6 x 9 inches
August 2018
Print ISBN: 9780889616066
Purchase Options
Send To A Friend


Women in the “Promised Land” places African Canadian women’s lived experiences, identities, and histories at the centre of Canada’s past. This collection of original research edited by leading scholars in the field encourages readers to interrogate the idea of Canada as a “Promised Land” by examining the rich and varied history of African Canadian women. Spanning slavery in the early 1830's through to activism of the late twentieth century, this interdisciplinary collection draws on existing research from cultural studies, literary studies, communications, and visual culture to reframe familiar figures in African Canadian women’s history, such as feminist Mary Ann Shadd and civil rights activist Viola Desmond, in the wider African diaspora. This invaluable text sheds light on questions of the past, present, and future in the field, and is best suited for undergraduate courses in women’s studies, African studies, sociology, and history.


  • contains interdisciplinary, accessible, and original work that examines African Canadian women’s history through a visual culture lens
  • includes chapter abstracts, questions for discussion, and a bibliographic appendix
  • encourages readers to make connections between African Canadian women’s history and emerging scholarship on race, indigeneity, and queer histories

Related Titles

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Calling to Her Brethren: Immigration, Race and Female Representation in the Life and Writings of Mary Ann Shadd by Cary Nassisse Solomon 13

Chapter 2: “servant, seraglio, savage or ‘Sarah’ ”: Examining the Visual Representation of Black Female Subjects in Canadian Art and Visual Culture by Charmaine Nelson 43

Chapter 3: Women and Children First: The Role of Black Women and Children in Southwestern Ontario’s Temperance Movement, 1840-1899 by Lorene Bridgen-Lennie 75

Chapter 4:African Baptist Women Organize: The Women at the Well by Sylvia Hamilton 98

Chapter 5: Intellectual History and the Visual Archive: Reading Photographs of the Reverend Jennie Johnson (1868-1967) by Nina Reid-Maroney 116

Chapter 6: “The Splendid Work Our Women Have Done”: African-Canadian Women in the Universal Negro Improvement Association by Carla Marano 136

Chapter 7: Labouring for Change: Narratives of African Nova Scotian Women, 1919 – 1990 by Claudine Bonner and Wanda Thomas Bernard 161

Chapter 8: Unsuitable to become Canadian: Change and Continuity in Racial Discourse in Canadian Political Consciousness A Mari Usque Ad Mare, 1850-1965 by Boulou Ebanda de B'béri and Dana Whitney Sherwood 181

Chapter 9: Mary Ann Shadd and the Canadian Political Imaginary: Citizenship and Experience in 19th-Century Canada West by Emilie- Andrée Jabouin 211

Appendix: Indigenous/African Colonization in Canada and Beyond: Suggestions for Further Readings 231

Selected Bibliography 239

Contributor Biographies 248

Index 251

Nina Reid-Maroney

Nina Reid-Maroney is an Associate Professor and Chair of History at Huron University College.

Boulou Ebanda de B’béri

Boulou Ebanda de B’béri is a Full Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Ottawa.

Wanda Thomas Bernard

Wanda Thomas Bernard is a professor emeritus of social work at Dalhousie University and a Canadian Senator.


“We have all been waiting for quite some time for this dynamic collection of new essays in African Canadian women’s history. Broaching topics such as slavery and visual culture, temperance, labour, and civic leadership, this book makes a key contribution to African Canadian history. It will surely attract a robust general audience.”

“Guided by the adage ‘the half has never been told,’ the editors and contributors have combed the field of Black women’s history and have presented to us a collection that is rich and textured.… The research for this collection is remarkable, the analyses coherent, and the individual stories fundamental. Women in the ‘Promised Land’ is a welcome addition to the study of Black women’s history. The editors must be commended for having the vision to make this outstanding work come to light.”

Student Resources

General Student Resource - Download