Emancipation Day commemorates the Abolition of Slavery Act. The Act came into effect on August 1st 1834, when slavery was officially abolished across the British Empire, including in British North America, which is now Canada.
In Ontario, places like Windsor, Toronto, Hamilton, Owen Sound and Dresden became early settlements for Black people seeking freedom and community.
Emancipation Day recognizes the important journey of the Black community, it’s also a moment to reflect on the remaining barriers preventing Black Canadians from the full enjoyment of freedoms in Canada.
In the city of Toronto and across the continent, we have seen a new page turned in the history of the struggle for Black lives. Young voices are leading the charge to dismantle oppressive systems and narratives. In light of the deaths of George Floyd, Regis Korchinski-Paquet, Chantel Moore, and too many others, young leaders are changing the way we consider solutions to the inequities facing Black, Indigenous, and other people of colour.
The United Nation declared 2015-2024 as the UN Decade for African People and the Diaspora – “Reiterating that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and have the potential to contribute constructively to the development and well-being of their societies”. Let’s realize the UN Decade here in Canada for all Black people in all institutions and systems. We must reconstruct better systems coming out of COVID-19 and the monumental movement happening today to end anti-Black racism.
As the MPP for Scarborough-Guildwood, it was on August 1 2013 that I was chosen by my Constituents to be their representative at Queen’s Park. I do not take this honour lightly and will continue to strive to build a stronger and inclusive community for all.
While the road to equality and justice is still long ahead of us, I am heartened by the widespread strength, resiliency, and community shown by Black Canadians, leaders, Youth and activists.
I wish a jubilant and proud Emancipation Day to all.