Slavery In Canada:
Chloe-Catalyst Tells The Story Of Chloe Cooley's Fight
And The First Anti-Slavery Law In The British Colonies
"Chloe=Catalyst" is the hybrid theatre/video production that tells the story of Chloe Cooley
Written & directed by Andrew Craig
Chloe Cooley was the enslaved Black woman at the centre of the drama that would result in the first anti-slavery legislation passed anywhere in North America - and this happened at what is now Niagara-On-The-Lake.
Chloe was a young Black woman, enslaved with other family members at a farm in Fort Erie, and at Queenston. On 14 March 1793, United Empire Loyalist Sergeant Adam Vrooman forced her into a boat to take her across the Niagara River to sell in the United States.
Peter Martin, a freed Black Loyalist, witnessed her intense struggles and screams as she fought against three men, who eventually gagged her, tied her up, and tossed her into the boat.
Helpless to come to her aid, he nonetheless carried her story to Niagara-on-the-Lake, then called Newark, and the capital of Upper Canada, and Lord Simcoe, a known abolitionist. It is believed that he used the furor surrounding the eyewitness account to drum up support for anti-slavery legislation that passed, but didn't go quite as far as he wanted.
The first legislation enacted to restrict in the British colonies prohibited importing new slaves, but still recognized existing ownership of slaves as property. Some of Upper Canada's most powerful families, including Provincial Secretary William Jarvis, and six out of the 16 members of the first Parliament of the Upper Canada Legislative Assembly (1792–96) were slave owners or had family members who owned slaves.
Existing slaves had no hope of freedom. But, anyone born thereafter as a slave would be free on their 25th birthday.
June 26, 2022 was also the 229th anniversary of the passage of "An Act To Limit Slavery In Upper Canada" - the legislation prompted by Chloe's abduction.
After over two centuries, Chloe (played by Shahi Teruko) finally has a voice.
- Check out a scene from Chloe-Catalyst below, and the rest of the movie at this link.