Arts + Culture » Literary

Chasing Freedom

By Gloria Ann Wesley (Fernwood)

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Chasing Freedom is a story of Black Loyalists, slaves who fought in the American Revolution and were granted freedom in Birchtown in the late 18th century. As the title suggests, what is officially granted proves elusive. One of the ensemble of characters, Lydia, puts it: “No different from what we left behind.” Her son and grandchild are unjustly accused of crimes in Nova Scotia. One serves jail time and the other is publicly whipped. Though dialogue is sometimes used for purely expositional purposes, the simple quips of wisdom and the small utterances that echo in the racism still present, are powerful. As Lydia’s son, Fortune, thinks, “They were all acting like a little time could wipe the slate clean with no side effects.” By bringing to life multiple stories of suffering, all surrounding one family but rippling onto the skin of so many, for so long, Wesley’s tale shows it isn’t so.

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