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Jul. 20, 2019 | Saturday
Local News
Voices of Freedom app kicks off
Allan Louis, with Juliet Dunn of TD Niagara Jazz Festival in the background, were among the narrators for the app. (Dariya Baiguzhiyeva/Niagara Now)

The walking tour app, complementing the Voices of Freedom Park, was officially launched on Tuesday, July 9.

The app launch ceremony took place at the park, located on the corner of Regent and Johnson streets in Old Town. The Voices of Freedom Park, which opened in November 2018, was designed to celebrate Niagara-on-the-Lake’s black history. The town, which had black settlers since the 1780s, is also the place where the first anti-slavery legislation was introduced in the British Empire.

Produced by the town of Niagara-on-the-Lake in collaboration with the Voices of Freedom Education Committee and the Niagara Historical Society and Museum, the app allows its users to learn more about the town’s black history.

Featuring photos, an interactive map and audio stories of people of African descent who lived and worked in NOTL, the tour starts at the Voices of Freedom Park. Making its way through Old Town and stopping at 15 locations, such as Fanny Rowley House on King Street or Daniel Waters slave cottage on Gate Street, the tour ends at Tanbark Road in St. Davids.

Around two dozen people were on hand at the launch event Tuesday morning, including town officials Lord Mayor Betty Disero and Coun. Allan Bisback.

“Please tell everyone you meet about this park, about this app, about our history because we’re really a significant place in this county,” Disero told the crowd.

The launch date was chosen to coincide with the anniversary of the Act to Limit Slavery which was passed on July 9, 1793.

Some of the influential Black people who lived and shaped NOTL’s history include Chloe Cooley, Solomon Moseby, Richard Pierpoint, the Waters family and more.

Dorothy Abbott from Ontario Black History Society said she is “a strong supporter” of events celebrating and recognizing black history.

“My family are descendants that came up from the underground railroad in the 1850s and I celebrate this all,” she told The Lake Report.

Vanya Abrahams, Juliet Dunn, Sarah Rowe and Allan Louis provided narration for the app with the background music provided by Danielle Marconi, Joe Lapinski and the 41st Regiment of Foot, Fife and Drum Corps.

The script for the audio tour was written and directed by Barbara Worthy, a producer and writer. Natasha Henry, president of the Ontario Black History Society, did research and provided historical consultation. Nancy Butler also contributed to the project by providing research and guidance.

“I’m very proud to be a part of telling a history that hasn’t been told before,” Worthy told The Lake Report. “There’s so much to learn about the history, it’s very profound, and I think it’s time we all understood the prominence of the Black community in this town.”

The tour is available on BaladoDiscovery app, a free application which offers self-guided tours, maps and routes across Canada as well as around the world. The tour can also be downloaded and accessed later offline.

The app is available for download for both iOS and Android users at vofpark.org.

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