Based on expertise in African history centred at York University in Toronto, a group of historians, including visiting professors Toyin Falola, Robin Law, and Adebayo, demonstrated a commitment to historical research into the roots of the African diaspora. Under the inspiration of the UNESCO “Slave Route” Project, an international team of scholars assembled at York University in 1997 for a three-week “Summer Institute.” The Institute brought together a group of scholars who have since coalesced into a network of researchers. Subsequently, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada funded “The Nigerian Hinterland Project,” which focused on the displacement of people in the region of Nigeria through slavery. This focus included the trans-Atlantic “slave trade” as well as the movement of people within Nigeria and northward into different parts of the Muslim world and across the Sahara.
The Harriet Tubman Resource Centre and the African Diaspora was then established to house the growing collection of documentary materials. In addition, the Canada Research Chair in African Diaspora History was established in 2001, with Professor Lovejoy appointed to the Chair, with the mandate of extending research into the African diaspora to Canada, thereby demonstrating the relevance of the Canada Research Chair to the local setting. More recently, the Tubman Centre has been re-organized as a formally organized research centre at York University as the Harriet Tubman Institute for Research on the Global Migrations of African Peoples. The Tubman Institute works closely with similar institutions elsewhere in the countries of the African diaspora in a collective effort to undertake primary research and also to disseminate the results of research through publications, conferences, and outreach programming.