Most Torontonians are not familiar with the black experience in Canada, but for Adrienne Shadd, African-Canadian history is in her blood.
Shadd is the great-great-grandniece of Mary Ann Shadd Cary, the first black women to publish and edit a newspaper in North America.
She is also a direct descendant of Abraham Shadd, a leader of the American abolitionist movement, one of the key figures of the Underground Railroad and the first black person in Canada to serve in public office.
Wednesday night Shadd was awarded the William P. Hubbard Award for Race Relations at the Access, Equity & Human Rights Awards at City Hall. She was acknowledged for her work in recognizing black history in Toronto.
“I’m thrilled that they would choose to recognize my work in particular because I’m not somebody who’s out there with the picket signs… but what little I do, I hope it will help our society,” she said.
Shadd feels her research and books open a wider window on Canada’s black history, a view not seen in the mainstream histories of the nation.
“Much of my own effort has gone towards the recovery of little known people and events which have not made the history books, but which have changed history none the less,” Shadd said in her acceptance speech.
She co-authored one of the only books on Toronto black history, The Underground Railroad: Next Stop, Toronto with her nominator Karolyn Smardz Frost and Dr. Afua Cooper. Her latest book, Journey from Tollgate to Parkway: African Canadians in Hamilton, will be available in 2010.
Shadd was not the only one being honoured last night. She shared the William P. Hubbard award with Paul Nguyen, an advocate for the Jane and Finch Community.
Other winners last night included the President of Centennial College, Ann Buller. She won the Constance E. Hamilton Award on the Status of Women with her efforts in the advancement of women in the work place.
Buller established the Women in Skilled Trades Office and the Women’s Skilled Trade Opportunities Program at Centennial. Buller could not make the event due to personal reasons.
The rest of the winners can be seen here.