A new statue commemorating the first black woman newspaper publisher in North America has been unveiled in downtown Windsor, Ontario. this week.
The bronze statue depicts Mary Ann Shadd holding a copy of her diary, the Provincial Freeman.
Shadd was an activist, journalist and lawyer who moved to Windsor and played a vital role in giving a voice to black people and defending women’s rights.
Shadd’s descendants are from Chatham-Kent, Ontario. and Southfield Michigan for the unveiling.
“I think we’re all extremely proud and excited to see the statue, it’s such a beautiful statue…we had a great time,” Vernon Shadd said.
“It’s great, I mean we’re getting recognition from someone in our family, someone in Canadian history who has done so much to help runaway slaves and everyone else, so that’s great for her to receive that kind of recognition, we need it.”
Born in 1823, Shadd and her family worked to free slaves as part of the Underground Railroad. In 1851, the family moved to Ontario and prepared to welcome black refugees. On the grounds of what is now Windsor Town Hall Square, Shadd opened a school for black and white pupils. She wrote and lectured on the importance of freedom while living in Canada and published Canada’s first anti-slavery journal, The Provincial Freeman.
“It’s great for the family and it’s also great for the children who follow us,” said Karen Shadd, another parent.
“They need to know this story and it’s a great way for them to recognize his contribution. It’s just a wonderful time that we really appreciate.”
The statue was created by sculptor Donna Jean Mayne, who said she heard about Shadd 20 years ago while painting murals for the city.
“When I heard her story, I thought who couldn’t help but be most inspired by her and I always thought she deserved more recognition,” Mayne said.
“She is depicted stepping forward and her skirts being pulled back like the wind as a discriminating force that had no effect on her, she just kept on going. And she was brave and brilliant … I hope I represented that.”
Shadd’s statue stands on the grounds of Windsor Hall, part of the University of Windsor’s downtown campus, at the corner of Chatham and Ferry streets.
Windsor Morning6:42Mary Ann Shadd statue unveiled
For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to stories of success within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project that Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.