Voices of Freedom Park

Voices of Freedom

Voice of Freedom

An accurate and complete understanding of our history is essential for establishing our true identity. This understanding allows us the opportunity to respond, and the manner of our response uncovers our character and shapes our future. The presentation of Canadian history often excludes the voices of Black Canadians, one of the earliest group of settlers. 
The Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake (Old Town, Queenston, St. David’s, Virgil, Glendale and the Township of Niagara) has set aside a significant site in the heart of the Old Town to understand, celebrate, and honour its Black history. Voices of Freedom is an experiential art installation designed to engage, educate, and challenge visitors about this most important aspect of our history. Voices from the past will tell their stories, enriching visitors’ understanding of how they shaped our Town and nation. 
But Voices of Freedom isn’t just about looking back. Ongoing research and programming will allow today’s and tomorrow’s voices to impact our nation’s future. 
It is a tragic injustice that, amidst the celebrated historical importance of Niagara-on-the-Lake, the Town’s significant and nation-shifting Black history has not been given a proper “hearing.” 
Voices of Freedom is intent on righting this wrong. Individually and collectively, all of Canada will benefit from listening to the Black voices of Canada’s past, present, and future. Such a hearing is essential for our nation to move towards a fair, just, and free society.  

Park Entry

Epa is a West African Adinkra representation of "Handcuffs," which symbolizes enslavement and captivity. The Transatlantic Slave Trade resulted in the forced dispersal of millions of Africans who were enslaved around the world, including in Canada, the United States, and the Caribbean. The Epa also symbolizes law and justice, particularly relating to freedom from captivity. 

Freedom Pathway

This path symbolizes the different paths people took to freedom, including travelling North to Canada to escape slavery in the United States. The different pathways to freedom included self-emancipation, obtaining freedom in exchange for military service in the British Army during the American Revolution, assistance via the Underground Railroad, and through the abolition of slavery. 

Opposing Steel Arcs

The two opposing steel arc walls represent the obstacles to freedom, including the harsh realities of racism and discrimination, that early Black Canadians of diverse backgrounds contended with on their journey from slavery to freedom and in their efforts to build their lives and communities.

Historical names and dates are inscribed upon the wall bringing light to significant dates in Canadian Black History. The forms of people cut into the wall represent the diverse voices.

Coloured Village Motif

The motif on the Communal Circle wall is an artistic interpretation of the schematic plan of the Coloured Village, an area of Niagara-on-the-Lake, roughly bounded by William Street, King Street, Anne Street, and Butler Street, where a large number of the Town's Black residents lived during the nineteenth century. The wall also presents the North Star as a beacon of hope that guided people to Canada. 

Communal Circle

The Communal Circle expresses ideas of kinship, community, support, harmony, identity, ritual, and upliftment through collective action. The circle is a space for dialogue between people both of the past and present. 

Unity Pathway

Black Canadians forged a sense of unity in their families and communities amidst adversity and hope with the aim of fostering a sense of belonging and realizing justice and equality. They often worked together with allies who opposed slavery. 

Contemplative Spaces North and South

In these areas designed for deep thought, visitors are encouraged to contemplate the legacies of slavery on both sides of the Niagara River and in other places along the Canada-US border. Visitors are also asked to meditate on the lives and contributions of the people the park honours, what freedom meant to the them, and what it means for you and for people today. 

North Star Locator

This component points to the location of the North Star, "Polaris," which served as a beacon of hope that guided freedom seekers to Canada. 

Extract of
Voices of Freedom | Black History of Niagara-on-the-Lake

Voices of Freedom | Black History of Niagara-on-the-Lake image circuit

Presented by : Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake
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