The House of Commons unanimously voted to officially recognize August 1 as Emancipation Day in Canada.
In a vote on March 24, all 335 Members of Parliament from all political parties voted in favour of the motion.
Emancipation Day is the day that slavery was officially abolished across the British Empire.
The motion also calls on the federal government to recognize that slavery existed in British North America prior to its abolition in 1834, and the contributions people of African descent have made and continue to make in Canada.
The motion was introduced by the Liberal MP for Richmond Hill, Majid Jowhari. He said the motion’s aim is reconciliation.
“It’s about being an informed and inclusive society that is willing to listen to the experience of various ethnicities and cultural backgrounds, and acknowledging the wrongs done in the past,” he said in an interview.
The Slavery Abolition Act, which ended slavery throughout the British Empire, received royal assent on Aug. 28, 1833 and came into effect in Canada on August 1, 1834. It came into force in parts of the Caribbean in 1838.
MPs and senators have tried for years to have Emancipation Day officially recognized in Canada. Sen. Wanda Thomas Bernard introduced a private member’s bill in the Canadian Senate in 2018 to recognize Emancipation Day, but it was dropped.
With the passing of the motion, the federal government can decide how to officially recognize the day.
Campaigners hope it will become a nationwide celebration.
Ontario officially dedicated August 1 as Emancipation Day in 2008.
The Emancipation Day celebrations in Windsor drew big names from the U.S. during its run from the Depression era until 1967.
The Supremes, Duke Ellington and Stevie Wonder appeared at what was called, “the greatest freedom show on earth”.
SOURCES: CBC.CA, CPAC.CA, OURCOMMONS.CA, RCS.CA