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Regina’s Carol LaFayette-Boyd agrees the history of Black settlement in the west is anything but singular.
“Many people of African descent came to Western Canada in the late 1800s and early 1900s,” she said. “Most people are only aware of those who settled in Eastern Canada, especially those who came through the Underground Railroad. There is a rich history here that needs to be shared and told.”
Her grandfather, Lewis LaFayette, moved from Iowa to Regina in 1906, buying a home on or near Winnipeg Street. He moved his family out to their homestead in the Rosetown area near Fiske in 1911.
Her family also established connections with the Shiloh community near Maidstone: Two of her uncles, her dad’s brothers, married women from the community.
“If you wanted a Black spouse, that was the only place you could go in Saskatchewan,” she said.
Speaking to the diversity of Black experiences on the Prairies, LaFayette-Boyd can’t recall, unlike in Ware’s life, direct experiences with racism when she lived in the Fiske area.
But she remembers how her aunt, working in the Rosetown bakery, was only permitted by the owner to “work in the back.”
LaFayette-Boyd traces her family lineage back to the mid-1700s in the United States, during the American Revolutionary War. She believes the paternal side of her family are descendants of the double-spy and freed slave, James Armistead Lafayette, who spied on the British while purporting to work for them.
Her, Foggo’s, Ware’s and Shiloh’s histories, individual yet intersecting with each other, serve as a reminder of the diverse mix of experiences on the Prairies.
“I think it’s very important for young Black people in particular, but also for all of us: This is history that should be and in my opinion is important to all of us,” Foggo said.
*Evan Radford is the Leader-Post’s reporter under the Local Journalism Initiative