Catalyst to change

Press release – Welland (Ontario), February 2nd 2023

The Centre de santé communautaire Hamilton/Niagara joins the rest of Canada, the United States and more recently Ireland and the United Kingdom, in celebrating Black History Month. In partnership with the Centre Francophone Hamilton and so throughout the month, we will hold numerous activities culminating in the 10th annual gala on February 25th. But let’s be honest, Black History Month is not only fun and games. It is also an opportunity to reminisce and reflect on ways to improve the world we all live in.

Have you ever heard of Chloe Cooley? She was a young Black woman who resisted her own enslavement in Queenston, in our very own backyard, in the late 18th century and who is being honoured by Canada Post. During this time period, enslavement in Upper Canada was on the rise but things were shifting, something was afoot and Chloe, who was known to be strong willed, to often refuse to obey and to leave her master’s property to wander without permission, would be a catalyst to change.

And so, in March 1793, amid rumours that enslavement could soon be banned and fearing the loss of his investment, Chloe’s enslaver kidnapped, bound and forced her on a boat that led her across the Niagara River to the United States, where she was sold. However, she did not go down easy and fought back… hard.  Her screams and attempts to free herself attracted the attention of witnesses who later recounted what they saw to Lt.-Gov. Simcoe. He would use those testimonies to introduce a new legislation in July 1793, less than 4 months after Chloe’s abduction, and that is how the Act to Limit Slavery in Upper Canada was passed.

This Act, did not free a single slave but prevented their importation and freed future children of slaves at age 25. Afterward, slavery declined and in 1834, 41 years after Chloe fought back, slavery was abolished in the British Empire.

And even if she did not benefit from it, Chloe had done it! She had opened a pathway to freedom for others as her actions led to the gradual abolition of enslavement in Canada.  She had created a legal refuge for men, women and children fleeing enslavement, for more that 30 000 freedom-seeking Black Americans.

Join us this month and throughout the year to celebrate and recognize the work that has been done and still needs to be done to make our world a more inclusive place. A place where it is safe to walk down the street at night, a place where you are not afraid of being arrested for no reason, regardless of your faith, color or gender.  Racism and discrimination must cease now.

Let us put an end to it all and like Chloe, let’s fight back and defend others when we witness prejudice. Remember, it only takes a tiny spark to ignite a fire.


France Vaillancourt, Executive Director

Phone. : (905) 734-1141 – www.cschn.ca

Link with more info about the Gala: www.facebook.com/events/

Link to the Canada Post video:  www.youtube.com