Bicentenary Chair

Jean Augustine Bicentenary Chair

In 2007, Jean Augustine was Chair of the Ontario Bicentenary Commemorative Committee on the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act, a body tasked with advising the government and working with organizations and communities across the province to mark the 200th anniversary of the 1807 abolition of the Act by the British Parliament.

The committee consisted of up to 15 members representing academia, students, historical societies, archivists, the arts, and the African-Canadian community from across the province. Commemorative projects were launched to help tell the history of slavery, commemorate the struggle of African-Canadians, and honour the spirit of those who fought for freedom, justice and equality.

Canada’s early settlers had brought enslaved Africans to Upper Canada and slavery expanded rapidly after 1783, as British Loyalists brought other enslaved Africans with them. In 1793, under Lt.-Gov. John Graves Simcoe, Upper Canada, which is now Southern Ontario, became the first jurisdiction in the British Empire to limit slavery.

The Abolition of the Slave Trade Act in 1807 outlawed this trade throughout the British Empire and made it illegal for British ships to be involved in the trade and transportation of enslaved Africans.