Hip hop historian brings black history to life
Published Friday, February 17, 2017 8:08PM EST
Last Updated Saturday, February 18, 2017 7:40PM EST
The history of black people in Quebec begins with slavery and executions.
And that history comes alive when Webster, the hip hop historian, gives walking tours of Quebec city.
"I wrote a song called Quebec History X and then it morphed into a lecture. I started to give this lecture and I wanted to give more to people, and wanted to bring it in the field, so this is how this tour started," said the artist.
Webster, whose real name is Aly Ndiaye, studied history at Laval University.
But most of what he learned about Quebec's black history was not taught in school.
He combined his passion for history with his love of music, and now gives tours that explain the sad story of the first black people to live in La Belle Province.
The first known slave in Quebec was owned by Sir David Kirke, who eventually sold the boy to a priest.
"His name was Olivier Lejeune. They sold this little boy. He was about 10-years-old," said Webster, looking at the Seminary of Quebec on the Rue des Remparts.
"This is the spot where the first slave in Canada lived most of his life. And more than the first slave, the first African resident of Canada lived here on this spot between 1632 and 1644."
Unlike the southern United States, slaves in Quebec did not toil in the fields.
Instead they worked as domestic servants, and were a visible sign of success.
"People had slaves to show their social status, to show their wealth," said Webster.
One of those slaves was purchased in 1773 for a gruesome task.
"They decided to buy a slave from Martinique. His name was Mathieu Leveille, and he was condemend to death because he fled his plantation three times. So they bought him, well, they gave him a choice: We either kill you, or you go to Canada and kill people. So he decided to come here to Canada."
Leveille became the province of Quebec's executioner.
For Webster, this is more than black history. It's everyone's history.
"Place d'Youville, which is named after Marguerite d'Youville who was the mother superior of the Grey Nuns in Montreal. Well, she had slaves," said Webster.
"The Palais Montcalm. Montcalm was the general who was defeated by general Wolfe in the battle on the plains of Abraham in 1759. Well, he had slaves."
"Why don't we talk about it?"