Invisible Shadows: A Black Woman's Life in Nova Scotia


182 pages
Contains Photos, Illustrations
ISBN 1-55109-393-6
DDC 305.48'8960716092





Reviewed by Nanette Morton

Nanette Morton teaches English at McMaster University in Hamilton.


Invisible Shadows is Verna Thomas’s plainspoken account of her life as
a black woman in Nova Scotia. While the book includes an introduction by
Africadian poet George Elliott Clarke, its interest derives chiefly from
historical, rather than literary, merit. Thomas details her
Depression-era upbringing in the Annapolis Valley and her subsequent
marriage and move to Preston, the oldest Africadian community in the
province. She also documents the development of her political
consciousness as she views the “bigger picture”—the struggles with
substandard housing, education, and employment faced by that community.

Active in church and school, Thomas battled these difficulties and the
discrimination that produced them head-on. When a Halifax County school
inspector granted the as-yet-unqualified Thomas a license that would
allow her to “teach in any colored school in the province of Nova
Scotia,” she rejected it as an insult and refused to accept any
official certification until the 1970s, when her Teacher’s Aide
Certificate enabled her to teach all children in an integrated school.
Invisible Shadows ends with Thomas’s trip to Africa and a plea for
black unity, acts showing her engagement with both the past and the


Thomas, Verna., “Invisible Shadows: A Black Woman's Life in Nova Scotia,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 28, 2024,