New Provincial Heritage Property recognizes African-American settlement in Sask.

The Shiloh Baptist Church near Maidstone has been added to Saskatchewan’s Provincial Heritage Property registry. Saskatchewan government / Supplied

Shiloh Baptist Church stands today as the only known building that remains from the first and only African-American farming community established in Saskatchewan.

The site, around 30 kilometres northwest of Maidstone, has been designated a Provincial Heritage Property.

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Completed in 1912, the church became the focal point of community life as well as a social and religious centre for a close-knit community of settlers who escaped segregation in Oklahoma.

“In the early 20th century, African-American families seeking freedom from discrimination made this small farming community in Saskatchewan their home,” Parks, Culture and Sport Minister Gene Makowsky said in a press release.

“Our government recognizes the importance of this site and the significant impact it has had in shaping the identity and culture of our province.”

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A cemetery at the site contains at least 37 graves of the original settlers and their descendants. It is the only known place in the province that illustrates the African-American burial custom of the late 19th century.

Fifty-three historic sites and structures have been formally recognized by the Saskatchewan government and protected as Provincial Heritage Property under The Heritage Property Act.

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