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There are British businesses built on slavery. This is how we make amends | Catherine Hall | Opinion

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The news that major British institutions, from the Bank of England, a number of universities and Oriel College Oxford, to companies such as Lloyds of London and the brewery Greene King, have acknowledged their links to the slave trade, slavery and empire is most welcome. They have announced that they will interrogate the place of portraits and statues, provide money to redress inequalities, and be more inclusive in their practices.

It has been a long time coming. The scale of the George Floyd demonstrations, and the toppling of Edward Colston’s statue, alongside public recognition of the disproportionate number of the deaths of south Asian and black people due to Covid-19, have compelled responses from institutions and companies that have had the information available as to their shameful histories for years, but have chosen to ignore it.

The Legacies of British Slave-ownership (LBS) database was made public by University College London in 2013, and we have been adding material to it ever since. The database invites the nation to actively engage in reparative history, by which we mean exploring and understanding wrongs of the past in order to address the ways in which injustices may be acknowledged and put right.

The initial research concerned the £20m paid in compensation to slave owners when their human property – enslaved men and women across the British Caribbean, Mauritius and the Cape – were emancipated in 1834. Slave owners were paid a proportion of what was deemed to be the market value of these 670,000-plus persons. People who had been bought and sold were now for the last time priced as commodities, and the money went to the owners. They invested their spoils on a whole range of economic, political and cultural activities – from building railways and developing merchant banks to buying artworks, some of which now grace our national collections (helping to refurbish country houses preserved by the National Trust and English Heritage). They also invested their capital, both human and mobile, in the development of the new colonies of white settlement in Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Emancipated men and women, meanwhile, struggled with their varied degrees of freedom.

Our subsequent research has focused on the Britons who owned property in land and people in the Caribbean from the mid-18th century to 1833 – opening up the long histories of white families who lived off the exploitation of enslaved people over generations. Our aim has been to provide unequivocal evidence of the ways in which white Britons have benefited from the slavery business, and how practices of racial injustice are historically embedded in British society and culture – how the past lives on in the present.

We use the term the “slavery business” to encompass the range of economic activities associated with British slavery. There is confusion in many people’s minds between the slave trade – the capture of men, women and children, mainly in west Africa, their sale to European traders in exchange for guns, textiles etc and their terrible forced crossings of the Atlantic and sale in the New World – and slavery. The latter refers to the condition of being enslaved, regarded as property, with that status passed on generationally. It meant working on plantations, in stock-breeding pens and as urban workers in the Caribbean, producing the sugar which had become part of British life, treasured not least for that iconic English cup of tea.

Both the slave trade and slavery were supported by a host of other activities which were crucial to the development of the British economy in the late 18th and early 19th century. Merchants provided the credit lines for both traders and plantation owners; the metal industries produced guns, fetters, bolts, nails, and all manner of iron work necessary for the plantation economy; the famous engineering firm Boulton and Watt sent some of its earliest steam engines to Jamaica; the shipbuilding industry, the dockworkers, the sailors; the sugar refining industry; the grocers who sold to the consumers – and so it went on.

Colston Street in Bristol, named after slave trader Edward Colston.



Colston Street in Bristol, named after slave trader Edward Colston. Photograph: Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

None of this stopped after emancipation, when British capital moved into cotton and fed the massive expansion of slavery in the US south, the extensive use of indentured labour on the tea plantations in India and for sugar in the Caribbean. Contrary to the myth, Britain’s economy became more dependent on slavery after emancipation than it was before.

The history of Greene King gives a glimpse into some of these entanglements. Benjamin Greene started off as an apprentice to the leading brewing firm Whitbread in London, and would go on to inherit estates in the island of St Kitts, becoming one of many absentee slave owners living off their Caribbean property. Once emancipation happened he was one of the 4,000 people in Britain (20% of whom were women) who received compensation. His share was £4,000 – £270,000 in today’s money – for 1,396 enslaved men and women in St Kitts and Montserrat.

In 1836, he established a leading London merchant house dealing in colonial goods and shipping. His son Benjamin Buck Greene, who spent time in St Kitts and was a successful planter, married the daughter of a prosperous merchant trader in Mauritius and set up a partnership with him. Greene gained recognition as a respectable entrepreneur and philanthropist, and was appointed governor of the Bank of England in 1873. Meanwhile the brewery flourished under the management of Benjamin’s third son Edward Greene, and the Caribbean estates continued to be profitable up to the 1840s.

Another son, Charles, was dispatched to St Kitts aged 16 to look after the estates but died three years later having fathered, it was believed, 13 illegitimate children. The novelist Graham Greene, his great-nephew, wrote in his autobiography, A Sort of Life, of encounters with his “coloured Greenes”, one of the many legacies of British slave ownership. His family’s activities as slave owners and merchants, buttressed by inheritance, strategic marriages and partnerships, had secured their fortunes for generations. The “coloured Greenes”, as he called them, alongside the descendants of the enslaved and the indentured on their plantations, bear witness to the unequal legacies of racial capitalism as it was practised across the empire.

In the next phase of our work, LBS aims to document the enslaved of the British Caribbean in the last decades before emancipation, tracking connections between named men, women and children, the slaveholders, and the estates and properties between 1817-33. Who knows what connections into the present will emerge from this work, and what demands it will be possible to make on the basis of new evidence?

Catherine Hall is emerita professor of history at UCL, and chair of the Centre for the study of British Slave-ownership

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Toshiba is officially out of the laptop business

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Toshiba quietly exited the laptop business once and for all last week, ending a 35-year run by transferring its remaining minority stake in its PC business to Sharp. Two years ago, Toshiba sold an 80.1 percent stake of its PC business to Sharp for $36 million, and Sharp renamed the division Dynabook. Sharp exercised its right to buy the remaining 19.1 percent of shares back in June, and Toshiba released a statement August 4th that the deal was completed

“As a result of this transfer, Dynabook has become a wholly owned subsidiary of Sharp,” Toshiba said in a statement.

The company made the first PC laptop in 1985: The T1100 boasted internal rechargeable batteries, a 3.5-inch floppy drive, and 256K of memory. ComputerWorld’s 20-year retrospective of the T1100 notes that Toshiba executives were unsure about the portable computer, but eventually came around, and began selling the T1100 for around $2,000.

During the 1990s and early 2000s Toshiba was among the top PC manufacturers, but as more players crowded into the market and with fewer unique features to offer, Toshiba’s laptops waned in popularity. By the time it sold its stake to Sharp, Toshiba’s share of the PC market had dwindled from its 2011 peak of 17.7 million PCs sold to about 1.4 million in 2017, according to Reuters.

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Government of Canada invests in Quebec’s Indigenous businesses and communities

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Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions invests over $4 million to help support jobs and opportunities in Indigenous communities.

MONTRÉAL, Aug. 9, 2020 /CNW Telbec/ – Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions (CED)

Today is the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, a time to recognize the key contributions of those who have called this land home since time immemorial. No relationship is more important to the Government of Canada than that with Indigenous peoples, a Nation-to-Nation partnership. This commitment includes major investments in housing, education and health care, committing to implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and co-developed legislation on Indigenous languages and child and family services.

As we walk the road of reconciliation together, the federal government remains strongly committed to creating economic opportunities for Indigenous businesses and communities.

Federal government support for 18 projects in Quebec Indigenous communities

The Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages, the Honourable Mélanie Joly, today announced contributions totalling $4,201,471 to support Indigenous businesses and communities, specifically 18 projects spread across different Quebec regions.

This financial assistance, granted by Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions (CED), will boost 18 projects led by Indigenous communities, business and organizations in the province. It will create good jobs in Indigenous communities by helping, for example, the Algonquins of Barriere Lake as they develop a strategic plan; the Société de développement économique Ilnu as it develops the Mashteuiatsh community’s assets; the Bande indienne des Micmacs de Listuguj as it builds a development strategy; and the Mohawk Council of Kanesatake as it develops commercial activities in the Mohawk community.

The support being announced will also bolster several tourism sector projects by enabling, for example, the Nunavik Tourism Association to conduct marketing and development activities; the Wiinipaakw Tours, Solidarity Cooperative to create tourism infrastructure and to ensure the development and promotion of regional assets such as Uapishka Station and the Domaine du lac des Cèdres. Through the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada, the funding will also provide assistance for several Indigenous businesses across the province being greatly impacted by COVID-19.

The investments announced will also boost local projects such as the construction of a new business centre and industrial motel for the Corporation Nikanik de Wemotaci; a new building for the Nation Micmac de Gespeg; and new trail infrastructure for the Conseil des Abénakis d’Odanak.

Additional information on the projects is provided in a related backgrounder.

Quotes

“True reconciliation means giving Indigenous communities and businesses the chance to succeed. This investment from CED will do just that—helping Indigenous businesspeople seize opportunities, helping Indigenous organizations deliver important local projects and helping Indigenous communities embark on the path to self-sufficiency and prosperity. I am excited to see the difference this investment will make for Indigenous communities in Quebec.”

The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Member of Parliament for Ahuntsic-Cartierville, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for CED

“To help Quebec’s economy recover, our government is making strategic investments to enable communities and businesses to take advantage of economic development and opportunities for growth. Small and medium-sized Indigenous businesses illustrate the ingenuity and dynamism that are at the heart of economic development in their communities across Quebec and across the country.”

Élisabeth Brière, Member of Parliament for Sherbrooke and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages (Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec)

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SOURCE Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions

For further information: Media Relations, Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions, [email protected]; Alexander Cohen, Press Secretary, Office of the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages, [email protected]

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Beaverdell business gets licence to grow small-batch cannabis – Kelowna News

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Licence to grow cannabis

A Kelowna husband and wife team have received the go-ahead to begin a small-batch craft cannabis operation in Beaverdell, B.C.

“I’m a micro-cultivation producer and my forte is going to be craft cannabis,” said Jeff Aubin, CEO Smoker Farms.

Aubin says he and his wife and a good friend have been working on the licence for a couple of years now, so the news is welcome.

“It’s been a struggle but this is great news and we are excited.”

Aubin looked into opening a dispensary in Kelowna but decided against it because he found the process onerous.

   

“I find that in the legal market most of the cannabis doesn’t have a lot of love attached to it.” Aubin says, adding Smoker Farms will “bring the love” by having a smaller crop of MK Ultra, with smaller rooms and more attention to detail.

“It has been our dream to be able to produce quality cultivars like MK Ultra and now we can begin to make those dreams a reality.”

Aubin has been working on the MK Ultra strain for 10 years.

“This cultivar has tested at a THC percentage of over 20 per cent, packing a powerful punch that is sure to resonate with a number of new and old consumers alike.”

Aubin hopes to bring a craft cannabis feel to his business even though his product will likely be sold under another label once it’s purchased at auction through Craft Depot.

“I’m working on deals that would allow for our labelling to be on future products so people will know how to find us, but for now, we’re just happy to be where we are,” says Aubin.

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