In the streets of New France, you could often see ladies accompanied by a 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 then became their master. There were 3600 slaves in total in the colony over the years.

When you are a slave, you must obey your master and do whatever he says. The master provides his slave with food, clothing and shelter, but does 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 who had been captured from the enemy. In the Thirteen Colonies, most slaves were Africans 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 his slave to another person, who would then become his or her new master. There were fewer slaves in Canada than there were in the Thirteen Colonies, and they were less abused. But they were still not free.

Author:  Service national du Récit de l’univers social

See also – Traces of the past:

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