Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Maroons in Nova Scotia

One of my reading goals is to learn more about the Nova Scotian black community. I thought maroon was a color so I was interested to read The Maroons in Nova Scotia, by John N. Grant. This simply written history book claims to utilize historical record and modern research to give a full picture of the Maroons. I found the account flat and a bit one sided. The perspective shared is from the historical record of the British governing Nova Scotia and Jamaica during the late 1700's. Therefore, the Maroons are never given a voice and I ended the book not fully understanding the journey taken by this community of people. Were they angry, resigned, resourceful, joyful, accomodating, fighting? The reader would have to look between the lines and imagine the reaction of the Maroons, because their personal account is never told.

So, who are the Maroons? The original definition of the word maroon has been "a fugitive slave who betakes himself to the woods". Jamaica in the late 1700's had 5 maroon populations. Periods of peace were interspersed with Maroon Wars, with the final war waged in 1795. Only a portion of the Jamaican Maroons were forced to leave Jamaica after their defeat, contrary to the terms of the signed peace treaty. In June 1796, 568 people set sail for Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Immediately upon landing in Halifax, the men were sent to work on the Fort at Citadel hill. This was called the Maroon Bastion until it was demolished 35 years later. The following year, the Maroon community was moved to Preston outside of Halifax, to become farmers. The community did not have great success in their time in Nova Scotia and it was decided to send them to Sierra Leone which occurred in August 1800.

This is just a small chapter in the history of the Nova Scotia black community. There doesn't appear to be any lasting legacy from their 4 years in Nova Scotia, but I now know who the Maroons are

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