Black residents of Saskatchewan have come from many different countries, at different times, and for different reasons, and their experiences have been just as diverse as their places of origin. The term “Blacks” is used here to denote people of African descent in Canada. The category is made up of three sub-groups: Canadian-born descendants of Blacks who came from Africa during the slave trade; descendants of Black Loyalists, refugees, fugitives and settlers who migrated during the American Civil War; and those who migrated mostly from the Caribbean and Africa after World War II, in search of a better socio-economic and political environment. It should be noted, however, that Statistics Canada uses the term “Blacks” in its categorization of race in the Canadian census. Until the 1966 census, Canadians were not officially disaggregated into races: it was thus difficult to procure empirical data on Black Canadians. As a consequence, some pre-1996 data used in this entry are mostly approximations derived from a variety of sources.
In 1865, following the defeat of the South in the American Civil War, slavery was abolished; but a new era of political and social segregation ensued. Blacks in Oklahoma, who were technically free to own property and be subject to the same law as everyone else, faced impossible constraints and economic disadvantages. They began to move to the Canadian prairies in search of equity in the early 20th century. One of their earliest settlements in Canada was Maidstone, Saskatchewan. Despite this initial move, it was not until half a century later that Blacks started to arrive in Saskatchewan in larger numbers. Since the 1960s, as a result of changes in Canada’s immigration policy, the country has witnessed a major immigration of Blacks, primarily from the Caribbean and to a lesser extent from tropical Africa. Black migration has continued to increase, although at a much lower pace than other visible minority migrants. Most of the recent Black immigrants from Africa within the last ten years have come from Somalia, Eritrea and, more recently, the Sudan.