Vernon’s The Black Prairie Archives: A Discussion


  • Adele Perry University of Manitoba
  • Barrington Walker
  • Sonja Boon
  • Betchel Belachew
  • Erica Violet Lee


Black Prairie, archives, prairie history, Winnipeg, racism


Some of the long-standing silence about Black prairie pasts was punctured in 2020 and 2021. In June of 2020 some 15,000 people gathered in Winnipeg in the name of Justice4BlackLives. Early in 2022, viewers should be able to watch a television series inspired by Winnipeg’s sleeping car porters, and it will be the biggest Black-led television production ever made in Canada. We still know too little about Black prairie pasts, and Vernon’s book, and these thoughtful responses to it, give us crucial ways to start better considering Black prairie histories.


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Author Biographies

Adele Perry, University of Manitoba

Dr. Adele Perry is director of the Centre for Human Rights Research and distinguished professor of history and women’s and gender studies. She is a historian of colonialism, gender, race and western Canada in the 19th and 20th centuries. From 2003 to 2014, Perry held a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair and she is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and past president of the Canadian Historical Association.

Barrington Walker

Barrington Walker, Ph.D. holds a doctoral degree in Canadian History from the University of Toronto (Canada). A historian of Modern Canada, his research and teaching interests are in histories of Black Canada, race, immigration, and the law. Dr. Walker is currently Associate Vice-President, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion; Professor, Department of History at Wilfrid Laurier University. Before his arrival at Laurier, Dr. Walker taught at York University, The University of Toronto and Queen's University at Kingston. Dr. Walker is often consulted for national television, print and radio media.

Sonja Boon

Sonja Boon is an award-winning researcher, writer, flutist, and teacher currently living in St. John’s. Professor of Gender Studies at Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador, she is the author of the critically-acclaimed memoir, What the Oceans Remember: Searching for Belonging and Home (WLU Press, 2019).

Betchel Belachew

Betchel Belachew graduated from the University of Manitoba with a BA in Sociology and Women’s and Gender Studies. Previously, Belachew worked at the Centre for Human Rights Research conducting research on the safety of Indigenous women and two-spirit people when using public transit in western Canada. She co-founded the grassroots organization Justice 4 Black Lives Winnipeg and is passionate about immigration issues, as she experienced Canada as a newcomer with her parents.

Erica Violet Lee

Erica Violet Lee (BA, MEd) is a nêhiyaw (Plains Cree) author, poet, community organizer, artist, and scholar. Erica has worked with Idle No More, the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition, and the David Suzuki Foundation, among others in the pursuit of Indigenous feminist freedoms. She is from westside Saskatoon and Thunderchild Cree Nation in Saskatchewan.




How to Cite

Perry, A., Walker, B. ., Boon, S., Belachew , B. ., & Lee, E. V. . (2023). Vernon’s The Black Prairie Archives: A Discussion . At The Forks, 2(1). Retrieved from