A Scattering of Seeds: The Creation of Canada
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EPISODE 32: "Captain of Souls: Rev. William White"
Directed by Fern Levitt

SYNOPSIS

Fern Levitt's Captain of Souls tells the story Reverend William Andrew White, the son of former American slaves, who brought solace and pride to the black community of Nova Scotia.

William Andrew White was the second black man accepted by Acadia University. He graduated in 1903 with an arts degree in theology. He then traveled as a missionary for the African Baptist Churches of Nova Scotia.

When WWI erupted, Reverend White enlisted in an all-Black segregated unit, and was the only black officer and chaplain for the entire British Army. The leader of the Cornwallis Street Baptist Church for seventeen years, he was the first black man to bring his sermons to radio.

A mix of interviews, archives and haunting gospel music, Captain of Souls is a tender eulogy for a man who brought hope to a forgotten community.

KEY IDEAS

  • The power of the individual to make a difference
  • Basic human rights which are worth fighting for
  • Becoming aware of racial barriers that existed in Canada
  • The long history of African-Canadians

KEY TERMS

  • United Empire Loyalist
  • Underground Railroad
  • World War I
  • Baptist Church

OBJECTIVES

  • To become aware of the long history and contributions of African-Canadians
  • The power of the word and pacifism in breaking down racial barriers
  • Becoming aware of racial barriers which did and continue to exist in Canada
  • The importance of strong leaders to a community


ACTIVITIES

  1. There is an expression, ‘think global, act local'. Look around your school and community - try to think of ways that you can improve them. Perhaps it is as simple as organizing a litter pick-up crew for the local park, or working towards having a light signal at a bad corner. Form a group. What can you do to improve your neighbourhood?

  2. Reverend White used the radio to give inspirational speeches. Does your school have a radio station? Join the radio station. Create a program to help motivate fellow students.

  3. Newspapers were important sources of information for early African-Canadian settlers. Create an historic newspaper such as the ‘Freeman'. What would some of the issues of the day be? Write articles that identify some of cultural and social barriers. Write it in the style of the 1860's.

  4. The Underground Railroad was one of the greatest Abolitionist tools used against slavery in the United States. There is a new park system in the United States being created to honour the route followed. Research the routes which were followed. Who were some of the key players? Where did they end up in Canada?

  5. Invite some of the leaders of the African-Canadian community in your town to speak about their experience in Canada. What racial barriers still exist in this country? How can we work to knock them down?