Black Nova Scotian Women Working in Service: The Invisible History

WandaBernardOn Thursday February 7 Professor Wanda Thomas Bernard delivered this lunchtime lecture to the Lifelong Learners program at Acadia University.

Bernard’s lecture builds on her work with Judith Fingard on Black Nova Scotian domestic workers in the mid-twentieth century. In this lecture Bernard discusses the hardships these women faced and the complex worlds in which they lived. Interested readers should see their joint essay “Black Women at Work: Race, Family and Community in Greater Halifax” in Judith Fingard and Janet Vey Guildford’s Mothers of the Municipality: Women, Work and Social Policy in post-1945 Halifax.

Wanda Thomas Bernard is a professor in the school of social work at Dalhousie University.  She is an expert in anti-racist social work practice and issues arising from violence. She is a charter member of the Order of Canada, as well as being considered a woman of distinction by the Canadian Progress club and named a rebel with a cause by the Elizabeth Fry Society.

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One thought on “Black Nova Scotian Women Working in Service: The Invisible History

  1. Nadine Hunt

    It is great to see that Active HIstory posted this recording. I use a film in one of my courses entitled, No Time to Stop: Stories of Immigrant and Visible Minority Women (1990) produced by the NFB. It is an excellent film to address issues on challenges faced by many immigrant women in the workforce. I hope that this will be a topic that will intrigue transnational and Canadian historians for years to come. It was interesting to hear that Professor Bernard mentioned that her mother pushed her to become who she was. I am always curious to know more about the backgrounds of these women/mothers. Did they have strong women in their lives to push them? Was their push to migrate to Canada because of an influential woman or women? Where are the men in these stories? I think that the men are there, but need to be teased out some more. As historians, we have to tease out these narratives because the standard has been to focus on the women (domestics, in this case) or their “successful” children that we don’t learn much about these women’s (domestics) community or even identity formation before arriving in Canada. I encourage many of my students to ask ask their parents, grandparents, or even great-grand parents how or why they migrated to Canada. It is something that all Canadians or immigrants who arrived as children to Canada should do…

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