Harriet Tubman is Close to My Heart

Much smaller than her American home, Harriet’s home on Welland Avenue in St. Catharines had become a tailor’s shop by the time my brother pointed the place out to me. Somehow, before my parents bought our house in the new subdivisions in the north end to make room for my coming on the scene, my mother, father, paternal grandmother, two young brothers, and a dog had sandwiched themselves in there. Since my father was a suicide veteran from the Second World War when I was one year and four months old, a one-liner here and there about our family past was pretty much all I received. One brother pointed the place out to me once and told me they had lived there. Decades later, the other brother told one of my daughters that Harriet Tubman had also lived there (obviously before us!).

Harriet graced our town for eight years. The abode was cross-corner to the church she went to, the British Methodist Episcopal Church at 92 Geneva Street in St. Catharines, Ontario. They built the church in 1855. The congregation is not too impressed that it was dubbed a world heritage site in 1999. I remember when I visited there that this designation was a deep burden: the congregation, and not the city that pushed for all this, were the ones with the fundraising burden for the cedar roofing and all other expensive retro maintenance requirements to meet the specifications of its heritage designation. I’m confident the British Methodist Episcopal Church would appreciate a donation. You can see the church when you click the following link:


My other familial connection is very special and close to my heart: one of my children married a descendant of two families from the above church who had been rescued by Harriet Tubman — intelligent, gentle, loving, kind. He had become a family friend long before my daughter said “I do.”

Yes, I am having trouble being stoic these days with the news: tears runneth over. Even COVID-19 makes a brief respite.

CBC Gem DOCS posted “The Skin I’m In” by journalist Desmond Cole. A few take-aways: white supremacy defends the policing culture of carding (social profiling); Walter Border mentioned that bitter laughter propels forward; the community needs to look after one another with “love work” connecting in real ways, not falling back on the police; professor Isaac Saney bemused observation of white people objections to the combining of passion and reason in the same space; only the chief of police can lay charges on a police officer, not the special investigations unit; and my favourite “justice sounds like oppression to the privileged.”


“Thousands of people rallied in Toronto last weekend, demanding an end to the killings of black people during interactions with police.” Michael Charles Cole/CBC

That photo link above is from CBC News, 03 June 2020 “Doug Ford’s comments on race ignore history of black trauma in Canada, writer says.” https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/doug-ford-racism-kathleen-newman-bremang-canada-1.5596346

It is time that, in all instances, be kind, be calm, be safe–in that order.

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