Earlier this year, the House of Commons voted unanimously to designate August 1st as Emancipation Day in Canada. The historical significance of this date is that it marks the day, August 1st, 1834, when the Slavery Abolition Act came into effect and formally ended slavery throughout the British Empire.
In Canada, commemorating the struggles and systemic racism endured by the Black people who were once enslaved here has been a process characterized by incremental change. Indeed, Canadians are not always aware that slavery occurred on this very land – perhaps due to the way modern-day Canada is often heralded as a global exemplar of rights, and freedoms.
It is important to officially recognize those who fought enslavement and persevered in the face of racism and discrimination because it is the only way we can truly understand their pivotal role in shaping our society. Therefore, each August 1, Canadians are invited to reflect on and engage in the ongoing fight against systemic racism and discrimination.
In many ways, though, Emancipation Day 2021 represents a starting point in terms of recognizing, becoming educated about, and carrying forth the all-important fight for justice that is ongoing in this country. Emancipation Day is a celebration of freedom. Above all, though, this day is a celebration of the strength and perseverance of Black communities throughout Canada.
I am privileged to serve this great and diverse community as the Member of Provincial Parliament for Scarborough-Guildwood since August 1st 2013.
I wish everyone a safe and thoughtful Emancipation Day 2021.