In the streets of New France, you could often see ladies accompanied by Indigenous or African slaves who helped them with their daily tasks. Owning a slave was a sign of wealth. Most slaves were quite young, around 17 years of age.  Two-thirds of them were Indigenous people. They had been captured by force while with their families, then sold to someone who became their master. There were 3600 slaves in total in the colony over the years.

Slaves had to obey their masters and do whatever they said. The master provided the slave with food, clothing and shelter but did not pay the slave any money for his or her work. A slave might do domestic chores, perform heavy work, assist a craftsman, or work in the fields.

The Indigenous slaves in New France were actually prisoners the enemy had captured. In the Thirteen Colonies, most slaves were people from Africa who had been brought to America to work in the large sugar and tobacco plantations. This type of agriculture required a lot of workers.

The master was free to sell slaves to others. The purchaser would then become the slave’s new master. There were fewer slaves in Canada than there were in the Thirteen Colonies.

Author:  Service national du Récit de l’univers social

See also – Traces of the past:

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