Government of Canada recognizes the national historic significance of Olivier Le Jeune
In the early 17th century, Olivier Le Jeune was the first documented person of African descent to live in Canada (New France) on a permanent basis and was the first person of African descent known to have been enslaved in the colony.
Today, the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, announced the designation of Olivier Le Jeune as a person of national historic significance under the National Program of Historical Commemoration, on the recommendation of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada.
Though few details are known about Le Jeune, records show he was a very young boy, living in either Madagascar or Guinea, when he was enslaved. Le Jeune died in his thirties on May 10, 1654. The historical record of Le Jeune’s life provides a glimpse into the experiences of enslaved people in New France, and how they were dehumanized and stripped of their identities and connections to communities in Africa.
National historic designations encourage us to acknowledge both the triumphs and the struggles that have led us to the Canada of today, and help us reflect on how to build a more inclusive society for today and future generations.
The Government of Canada, through the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, recognizes significant persons, places, and events that have shaped our country as one way of helping Canadians connect with their past. The Government of Canada is ensuring that Canadians have opportunities to learn about the full scope of our history, including the tragic and shameful periods that are part of our collective past.
The designation process under Parks Canada’s National Program of Historical Commemoration is largely driven by public nominations. To date, more than 2,200 designations have been made nationwide. To nominate a person, place or historical event in your community, please visit the Parks Canada website for more information: https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/culture/clmhc-hsmbc/ncp-pcn/application.