Giving expression to the silenced and forgotten stories of people of African descent
Main entrance symbol
Epa is a West African Adinkra representation of "Handcuffs" which symbolizes enslavement and captivity. The Transatlantic Slave Trade resulted in the forced dispersal of millions of Africans who were enslaved around the world, including in Canada, the United States and the Caribbean. The Epa also symbolizes law and justice, particularly relating to freedom from captivity.
The different pathways to freedom included self-emancipation, obtaining freedom in exchange for military service in the British Army during the American Revolution, assistance via the Underground Railroad, and through the abolition of slavery.
In these areas designed for deep thought, visitors are encouraged to contemplate the legacies of slavery on both sides of the Niagara River and in other places along the Canada-US border. Visitors are also asked to meditate on the lives and contributions of the people the park honours, what freedom meant to them, and what it means for you and for people today.
Opposing Steel Arcs
The two opposing steel arc walls represent the obstacles to freedom, including the harsh realities of racism and discrimination, that early Black Canadians of diverse backgrounds contended with on their journey from slavery to freedom and in their efforts to build their lives and communities.
Black Canadians forged a sense of unity in their families and communities amidst adversity and hope with the aim of fostering a sense belonging and realizing justice and equality. They often worked together with allies who opposed slavery and discrimination.
The Communal Circle, expresses ideas of kinship, community, support, harmony, identity, ritual and upliftment through collective action. The circle is a space for dialogue between people both past and present.
Coloured Village Motif
The motif on the Communal Circle wall is an artistic interpretation of the schematic plan of the Coloured Village, an area of Niagara-on-the-Lake, roughly bounded by William Street, King Street, Anne Street, and Butler Street, where a large number of the town's Black residents lived during the 19th century.
Voices of Freedom was made possible by the generosity of the citizens, businesses and the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, commissioned artist Fleisher Ridout Partnership Inc., and signature donors.