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Some the earliest Africans to arrive in New France came as slaves. One of the earliest slaves in New France was a young boy from Madagascar. He arrived in Québec in 1628 as the slave of David Kirke, an English privateer who attacked Québec. Kirke sold the boy to one of the colony's clerks. The boy was the first recorded slave sold in New France. He was sold again, and educated at a school run by a Jesuit priest named Father Le Jeune. He was later baptized as a Catholic and given the name Olivier Le Jeune. Oliver lived in New France until he died in 1654 at around age 30.
By 1759, there were between 1 000 and 1 500 Black slaves in New France. When labourers were needed, the French king, Louis XIV, gave New France permission to import slaves, even though slavery was against the law in France at the time. Most of the slaves in New France lived in or near Montréal and worked as house servants. They did the laundry, cooked, and looked after children. Some of the slaves worked as farm labourers. Others did heavier work at the French fur-trading posts, building and defending them.
There were many different slave owners in New France. Some were merchants, traders, military men, governors, church bishops and parish priests. Even the nuns used slaves at the hospitals and schools they ran.
Slaves in New France usually didn't live beyond 25 years old.