The experience of Black Canadians is largely absent from Canadian history books. One of the few employment options open to Black men in the last century was to work as sleeping car porters on Canada’s transcontinental railroads, often for no wages other than tips. Dr. Foster has done extensive research on the harsh lives of these men, and their determination to win respect for their labour. He will explore how their story, which was invisible for too long, forces us to re-examine many underlying assumptions about what constitutes this country’s history. He argues that Canada’s reputation for diversity rests on the shoulders of the porters’ struggles.
Cecil Foster is an acclaimed author, academic and public intellectual. Professor of Transnational Studies at the University of Buffalo, he is a leading authority on social justice and multiculturalism. His latest book is They Call Me George: the Untold Story of Black Train Porters and the Birth of Canada.