187 years ago today, the British Empire declared that slavery, across all its colonies, was to be abolished. Emancipation Day – A day signifying liberty, hope, and change, and a day intended for reflection, for honouring, and for furthering our education in an ongoing fight against anti-Black racism in all its forms.
This is the first year that Emancipation Day is formally recognized by the Canadian government The House of Commons voted unanimously on March 24th, that August 1st, from 2021 till infinity, shall be recognized for the cultural significance it deserves.
“Canadians are invited to reflect, educate, and engage in the ongoing fight against anti-Black racism and discrimination,” states the Canadian government on their official page for Emancipation Day. “Emancipation Day celebrates the strength and perseverance of Black communities in Canada.”
The day has been recognized in other countries for far longer than Canada, but the country has been celebrating it since immigrants from the Caribbean came to the country. Festivals like Caribana are an offshoot of Black Canadian tradition and Emancipation Day parades.
Celebrations and ceremonies are set to take place all over the country. A flag raising will take place in Ottawa, Brampton, and in numerous cities throughout the Maritime provinces. Toronto has seen protests and demonstrations for Emancipation in years past.
Emancipation Day should serve as a day of reflection upon the racial transgressions that made their home in Canada from the day of its inception. Many forget the country’s history of slavery, as it’s not a point commonly taught in schools. The fact that today even marks Emancipation Day is more than likely a shock, and is news to many.
There is a reason why a day like Emancipation Day needs to be celebrated in Canada. Our history, the treatment of Black and Indigenous people, is not to be forgotten. Yet it is a day of reconciliation, of recovery, and of reflection. It is a necessity, for this August 1st, and for all August 1sts to come.
Sources: CBC.CA, CANADA.CA, ATLANTIC.CTVNEWS.CA