Participants learning about the classroom lessons at the Buxton SS#13 School built in 1861
November 28, 2019
Throughout the year, Humber’s International Centre organizes a variety of events and trips to help students get settled in their new surroundings and become familiar with Canada’s diverse customs, culture and history. Our most recent educational trip was a historical tour to southwestern Ontario to visit the sites of the Underground Railroad. Where a number of African Americans settled in the 19th century seeking safety, peace and freedom from slavery in the United States.
This special trip was an inspiring experience for students, as well as the participating staff and alumni. It’s an example of how Humber mobilizes and harnesses our diversity to help each other understand the range of experiences that make up Canada and our community.
Participants at the Amherstburg Freedom Museum
CANADA’S ROLE IN THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD
Ontario was one of the primary destinations for enslaved and free men, women and children escaping the American South. International Student Advisor, historian and published author, Dalyce Newby organized the trip to share this rich and spirited chapter in Canadian history—one that is often overlooked but an integral part of our culture and identity.
Visiting sites such as Amherstburg, Buxton, the Chatham’s Black Mecca Museum and Sandwich First Baptist Church in Windsor, participants viewed and physically experienced the homes, schools and churches, as well as tunnels, trap doors and safe rooms, used by Ontario’s freedom-seeking settlers. On display were also chains, shackles and instruments of torture commonly used on slave ships and plantations in the south. It was a visceral and often eye-opening experience that definitely resonated with the group, each in their own way, noted Newby.
“Coming from the West Indies my background included a historical appreciation of slavery on the islands,” said Dianne Davies. “This trip was an opportunity to see the North American experience and learn about the journey of enslaved persons finding freedom in Canada.”
“One thing that really stood out for me is the perspective this trip provided,” said Shi Yue Zhang, International Student Advisor. “The strength and resiliency of the people help shape my views of my own life. There’s always so much to learn from other cultures as well as from history itself.”
Group photo at the Sandwich First Baptist Church in Windsor
LOCAL HISTORY AND CULTURE HAVE GLOBAL CONNECTIONS
From the Underground Railroad to touring Ontario’s Parliament buildings or exploring Toronto’s historic Kensington Market, the International Centre’s yearlong program of events and trips are an essential part of how we prepare students for life in Canada, develop internationalization within our campuses and expand our understanding of diversity and inclusion. For international students, these experiences are key opportunities to socialize within our community but also to venture off campus and take in Canada’s diverse, dynamic and globally-relevant culture.
“Experiences of this nature connect students to our Canadian heritage, who we are as a nation and how various people have contributed to this country,” said Newby. “This trip was an opportunity for those who attended, to correlate it to what is currently happening globally as slavery and lack of freedoms still exist.”
(Left) Dalyce Newby, standing in front of the Tower of Freedom in Windsor, Ontario
(Right) Participant standing beside the bust of Mary Ann Shadd, installed in the BME Freedom Park - Sculpted by Artis Shreve Lane