Government of Canada recognizes Chloe Cooley as a person of national historic significance

News release

Cooley’s resistance embodies the resilience and strength of enslaved people in Upper Canada

April 27, 2022                                Gatineau, Quebec                  Parks Canada Agency

National historic designations encourage us to acknowledge both the triumphs and the struggles that have led us to the Canada of today, and help us reflect on how to build a more inclusive society for today and future generations. In the late 1700s, Chloe Cooley’s courageous struggle against violent and forced transportation to New York became a well-known example of the everyday acts of resistance undertaken by enslaved people of African descent in Upper Canada.

Today, the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, announced the designation of Chloe Cooley as a person of national historic significance under the National Program of Historical Commemoration, on the recommendation of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada.

In 1793, Chloe Cooley fought back against her enslavers when she was violently bound and forced into a boat to be sold to a stranger in upstate New York. Once they reached the American shore, Cooley screamed and struggled to get loose from her binds but was ultimately unable to escape. The public attention garnered by Cooley’s resistance was instrumental in providing Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe with the political capital necessary to impose limits on the importation of enslaved people in Upper Canada.

Canada honours the resilience, innovation, and determination of Black people and recognizes the enormous contributions they have made, and continue to make, in all sectors of society.

The Government of Canada, through the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, recognizes significant persons, places, and events that have shaped our country as one way of helping Canadians connect with their past. By sharing these stories with Canadians, we hope to foster understanding and reflection on the diverse histories, cultures, legacies, and realities of Canada’s past and present.

The designation process under Parks Canada’s National Program of Historical Commemoration is largely driven by public nominations. To date, more than 2,200 designations have been made nationwide. To nominate a person, place or historical event in your community, please visit the Parks Canada website for more information: https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/culture/clmhc-hsmbc/ncp-pcn/application.

                                                                                                           -30-

Quotes

“I am pleased to commemorate the national historic significance of Chloe Cooley, who embodies the resilience and strength of Black Canadians. Black history is Canadian history. The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring that Canadians have opportunities to learn about the full scope of our history, including the tragic and shameful periods that are part of our collective past. Commemoration is about recognizing the many diverse aspects of our history and committing to do better in the future.”

The Honourable Steven Guilbeault
Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada

“I am pleased that Chloe Cooley is being honoured as a person of national historic significance. As an enslaved Black woman, Chloe Cooley's voice could not be silenced and her success in compelling action around freedom echoes into the present day. In learning about her story, Canadians can better understand that our history is diverse and our future will continue to be built through its diversity.”

Rosemary Sadlier
Black History Author, Educator, and past President of the Ontario Black History Society (OBHS)

Nominated Chloe Cooley for designation
as a person of national historic significance

“The designation of Chloe Cooley as a person of national historic significance sheds light on some of the injustice and hardship that have been experienced by Black Canadians. I encourage all Canadians to learn more about the designations that reflect on the important contributions of Black Canadians to Canada’s heritage. In sharing these stories, we acknowledge how people of colour continue to unite, impact, and shape our country – and most importantly, our future.”

The Honorable Greg Fergus,
Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and Chair of the Parliamentary Black Caucus

Quick facts

  • The Government of Canada has recognized more than 40 people, places, and events of national historic significance that reflect the importance of Black Canadians to our country’s shared heritage.

  • Canada officially recognizes the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent, which began in 2015 and will be observed until 2024. The International Decade promotes greater global recognition of and respect for the cultures, history and heritage of people of African descent.

  • Created in 1919, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada advises the Minister of Environment and Climate Change regarding the national significance of persons, places, and events that have marked Canada’s history. Together with Parks Canada, the Board ensures that subjects of national historic significance are recognized under the National Program of Historical Commemoration and these important stories are shared with Canadians

  • Parks Canada is committed to working with Canadians in its efforts to tell broader, more inclusive stories in the places that it manages. In support of this goal, the Framework for History and Commemoration outlines a new, comprehensive, and engaging approach to sharing Canada’s history through diverse perspectives, including shedding light on tragic and difficult periods of Canada’s past.

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Contacts

Kaitlin Power
Press Secretary     
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change
819-230-1557
kaitlin.power@ec.gc.ca

Media Relations
Parks Canada Agency
855-862-1812
pc.media@pc.gc.ca

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