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Dr. Dorothy Williams

Dorothy Williams

Historian and author

October 2019

As a historian, what time-period does your research cover?

My research goes all the way back to the 17th Century, to Samuel Champlain, but there’s no one specific era. One of my specialist areas includes slavery, the slavery in Quebec particularly. There are a lot of researchers doing work on this in Ontario, but not in Quebec so in that regard I am probably unique. There’s also my work on the early formation of community, so that would be the first 30 or 40 years of the 20th century, and most of my research goes up to the Sir Georges Williams Affair in 1969 when the riots took place. 

I also did a presentation last year about the Press that came out of this event, at a conference called Writing Blackness at McGill University. The Sir Georges Williams Affair created a rupture within the Black community and one of the ways that the community responded was to create a new Black Press, with several papers being published as a result of this event. I had tracked this movement as a part of my doctoral dissertation, so I have a significant amount of expertise in the area and material to bring together for the McGill presentation.

I think people are more interested in the lived experiences of history, and that’s something that I try to bring out in my work.

What projects are you currently working on?

For work that I do, people contact me when they’re working on films or research, or are looking to expand the material that they’re offering, and we work together to determine what they are looking for.

I’m in the midst of a number of contracts right now, all of which are an offshoot of my area of interest and expertise. I’m working on a Heritage Minute that’s being created for Historica Canada, which will be a tribute to Oscar Peterson’s life and his significance to Canada. I’m also working with an organization called M.P.O., doing redaction of their Black History editing for Geo History Maps, a history site based on maps that aims to tell history in a dynamic, interactive way. They have information specific to the Black Canadian timeline and I did the editing for this specific timeline.

I’m currently writing some articles on Little Burgundy for the Canadian Encyclopedia. In addition to this, there’s my work with the Da Costa-Angelique Institute (DAI), a non-profit organization that was Canada’s first Black think-tank and has an art collection of close to 500 pieces of art, which I am semi-curating with them on. I’m also doing articles for geo-scope, looking at obstacles overcome by the Black community in legal cases in Canada, as I have just finished one on human rights and the Black community in Canada.

And you’re on the board of a few organizations, too?

I’m on the Board of the Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network and also the Da Costa-Angelique Institute.

Dr. Williams is also currently working with QUESCREN as a consultant for their "Community Knowledge Database”.

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