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January 23, 2024

Posted in News Releases

New Black History Month stamp honours trailblazer Mary Ann Shadd

An abolitionist, educator, writer and lawyer, Shadd was also the first Black woman in North America to publish and edit a newspaper

January 23, 2024

Posted in News Releases

CHATHAM, ONT. – Today, at an event in Chatham, Ont., Canada Post unveiled a new Black History Month stamp honouring Mary Ann Shadd. An abolitionist, educator, newspaper publisher and lawyer, Shadd broke boundaries throughout her life as she fought for the rights of Black people and women.

Born in 1823 in Wilmington, Delaware, Shadd established herself early on as a dedicated teacher, writer and activist. In 1851, she was invited to teach in Windsor, Ontario, where she helped open a racially integrated school that supported families fleeing enslavement in the United States.

Two years later, she launched The Provincial Freeman and became the first Black woman in North America – and the first woman in Canada – to publish and edit a newspaper. Published from Windsor, then from Toronto and Chatham, it was an anti-slavery newspaper that advocated for the advancement and equality of Black people. It also promoted Canada as a place for Black people to settle, raise families and contribute as free citizens.

To avoid alienating readers accustomed to male editors, Shadd initially kept her name off the masthead. However, she grew tired of the assumption that she was a man and in 1854 revealed her identity.

In 1863, she moved back to the United States where she continued to build her reputation as a trailblazer. The second Black American woman to obtain a law degree, Shadd became a lawyer and a prominent suffragist.

Shadd’s lifelong fight for equal rights continued a family legacy. Her father, Abraham Doras Shadd, was active in the Underground Railroad and was featured on Canada Post’s first Black History Month stamp issue in 2009. It is believed that this is the first time in Canadian postal history (outside of the Royal Family) that a father and daughter have each appeared on a stamp.

About the stamp

The stamp was designed by Underline Studio and illustrated by Natasha Cunningham. The central image is the only known photograph of Shadd. The lower image is a reproduction of The Provincial Freeman’s masthead, recreated to include both of Canada’s official languages. The metallic-inked black-eyed Susans represent resilience, encouragement, justice and motivation. Printed by Colour Innovations, the issue includes a booklet of six PermanentTM domestic rate stamps and an Official First Day Cover. The cancel site is Chatham, Ont., where Mary Ann Shadd spent most of her years while residing in Canada.

Stamps and collectibles are available at and postal outlets across Canada.

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