Canada

Saint John group working to honour first Canadian-born Black lawyer

SAINT JOHN, N.B. —
The legacy of Abraham Walker deserves to be celebrated says a group working to do just that.

Amateur historian Peter Little places a flag alongside a small wooden stake in the Church of England Cemetery, marking the spot he believes to be the final resting place of Walker.

“Years ago, a man named Lennox Bagell took it upon himself to dig out all the known burials for this graveyard, and along with the burials was a map of all the burial plots,” Little said.”And Abraham Walker’s family plot is on there.”

The grandson of runaway slaves from Virginia, Walker was born in 1851 in Greenwich Parish, New Brunswick and would become the first Canadian-born Black lawyer.

But today, the trailblazing Walker lays in an unmarked grave in Saint John, something a group, led by local lawyers, are working to rectify.

“About a month ago, I received a call from a local lawyer who wanted to push for this,” Little said. “He and a couple other local barristers decided it just wasn’t right.”

The group is working with PRUDE, which stands for pride of race, unity, dignity through education, and the New Brunswick Black History Society to raise enough money to put up a monument over the gravesite.

“The fact that lawyers in the province spearheaded this effort to honour him with a gravestone really does go some way toward rectifying the wrong of his having been disrespected in his lifetime here in Saint John,” said Damon Levine, a program developer with PRUDE Inc.

The fundraising target is $6,000, which will cover the cost of the monument and a memorial tablet to be placed in the Saint John Law Courts.

As of Wednesday, more than $3,500 has been raised to help right a wrong and pay respect to a man who paved the way for so many others.


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