Le Jeune, Olivier National Historic Person

Québec, Quebec
Material from The Kids Book of Black Canadian History written by Rosemary Sadlier and illustrated by Wang Qijun is used by permission of Kids Can Press Ltd., Toronto. (© Wang Qijun, 2003)
Artistic rendition of Olivier Le Jeune
(© Wang Qijun, 2003)
Address : Québec, Quebec

Recognition Statute: Historic Sites and Monuments Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. H-4)
Designation Date: 2022-02-08
Life Date: 0 to 1654

Other Name(s):
  • Olivier Le Jeune  (Designation Name)
Research Report Number: 2021-02

Importance: First documented person of African descent living on a permanent basis in Canada (New France), provides a glimpse into the experiences of enslaved people based on historical records


Existing plaque:  Cartier-Brébeuf National Historic Site, 175 de l'Espinay Street, Québec, Quebec

Born in Madagascar or on the coast of Guinea, Le Jeune is the first documented person of African descent to have permanently resided in what is now Canada. He was sold into slavery as a child and arrived in Québec City during the English occupation (1629–1632), where he was sold again and later given to Guillaume Couillard. On this site, he learned French from Jesuit Paul Le Jeune. He was baptized a Catholic in 1633. All of this contributed to Le Jeune being severed from his African identity. His life provides insight into the experiences of enslaved people many decades before New France officially participated in the slave trade.