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Cooley’s resistance embodies the resilience and strength of enslaved people in Upper Canada

April 27, 2022                                Gatineau, Quebec                  Parks Canada Agency

National historic designations encourage us to acknowledge both the triumphs and the struggles that have led us to the Canada of today, and help us reflect on how to build a more inclusive society for today and future generations. In the late 1700s, Chloe Cooley’s courageous struggle against violent and forced transportation to New York became a well-known example of the everyday acts of resistance undertaken by enslaved people of African descent in Upper Canada.

Today, the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, announced the designation of Chloe Cooley as a person of national historic significance under the National Program of Historical Commemoration, on the recommendation of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada.

In 1793, Chloe Cooley fought back against her enslavers when she was violently bound and forced into a boat to be sold to a stranger in upstate New York. Once they reached the American shore, Cooley screamed and struggled to get loose from her binds but was ultimately unable to escape. The public attention garnered by Cooley’s resistance was instrumental in providing Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe with the political capital necessary to impose limits on the importation of enslaved people in Upper Canada.

Canada honours the resilience, innovation, and determination of Black people and recognizes the enormous contributions they have made, and continue to make, in all sectors of society.

The Government of Canada, through the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, recognizes significant persons, places, and events that have shaped our country as one way of helping Canadians connect with their past. By sharing these stories with Canadians, we hope to foster understanding and reflection on the diverse histories, cultures, legacies, and realities of Canada’s past and present.

The designation process under Parks Canada’s National Program of Historical Commemoration is largely driven by public nominations. To date, more than 2,200 designations have been made nationwide. To nominate a person, place or historical event in your community, please visit the Parks Canada website for more information: https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/culture/clmhc-hsmbc/ncp-pcn/application.

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