Skip to main content

BHM Student Work Feature: "The Role of Law in Shaping the Lives of Black People in Eighteenth-Century Canada," by Wennie Chen

In honour of Black History Month, the Department of History is featuring undergraduate student research that addresses Black histories, Black cultures, and Black experiences. Throughout the month of February, we will post the eight essays deemed to be the strongest of the many exceptional projects we received during our open submission call. We hope you enjoy reading our students’ work.

The Selection Committee would like to thank all of those who submitted their work for consideration.

We are pleased to share our first student research feature: an essay entitled "The Role of Law in Shaping the Lives of Black People in Eighteenth-Century Canada," written by Wennie Chen for the first-year History course, HIST 104: Pre-Confederation Canada.

In HIST 104, students were asked to write a term paper on the lives of Black settlers in Nova Scotia during the 18th century. The project was called “18th Century Black Lives Matter.”

Based on primary and secondary historical sources, Wennie's essay explores the intersections of slavery and law through a comparative analysis of the treatment of white settlers and Black settlers in Nova Scotia, demonstrating the racism that Black Nova Scotians experienced in the 18th century. 

As Wennie explains:

[The] impacts of slavery ... contributed to the long-held notion of white superiority over people of colour, an ideology that lingers even into today. I want[ed] to convey how crucial of a role the past played in the events of present-day oppression, and that centuries of being denied equal opportunities erode the future of marginalized groups ... I hope that my submission aids in spreading awareness on the lives of Black people in Canada, as many are unaware of the racism experience [of] Black Canadians in the past.

Wennie Chen is a first-year student at Queen’s University.

Read the full essay here


Wennie Chen

Department of History, Queen's University

49 Bader Lane, Watson Hall 212
Kingston ON K7L 3N6




Queen's University is situated on traditional Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe territory.