This 1996 documentary takes a nostalgic ride through history to present the experiences of Black sleeping-car porters who worked on Canada's railways from the early 1900s through the 1960s. There was a strong sense of pride among these men and they were well-respected by their community. Yet, harsh working conditions prevented them from being promoted to other railway jobs until finally, in 1955, porter Lee Williams took his fight to the union.
Claiming discrimination under the Canada Fair Employment Act, the Black workers won their right to work in other areas. Interviews, archival footage and the music of noted jazz musician Joe Sealy (whose father was a porter) combine to portray a fascinating history that might otherwise have been forgotten.
Ages 14 to 17
Civics/Citizenship - Human Rights
Diversity - Black Studies
Social Studies - Social History
Have students track the history of Human Rights pertaining to racial equality in Canada. What milestones changed the opportunities for African-Canadian citizens? Watch the Making It to examine the feelings of some African-Canadians regarding discrimination in the workplace today. Hold a debate and discuss how circumstances changed or remained the same?