OTTAWA -- The Green Party of Canada welcomes today’s unanimous vote in the House of Commons to recognize August 1 as Emancipation Day, the day that slavery was abolished across the British Empire, including the territories that came to be known as Canada. Slavery of trafficked Africans was introduced by colonists into the territories of Canada in the 1600s. The practice of slavery was also inflicted on Indigenous Peoples and continued for hundreds of years until it was abolished on August 1, 1834.
“I’m very pleased that there has been overwhelming support in the House to proclaim August 1 as Emancipation Day in Canada,” said Green Party Leader Annamie Paul. “For almost 200 years Emancipation Day has gone generally un-commemorated, and untaught, though people of African descent have lived in Canada since the transatlantic slave trade and the Indigenous Peoples of these territories pre-date the colonialists. Shared histories, just like personal memories, can only exist when we solidify them through re-telling.
“If declared, Emancipation Day will be an opportunity to recognise the outstanding contributions of Black and Indigenous Peoples in every field of human endeavour, made all the more remarkable given the legacy of slavery. Commemorating this day will provide an exceptional educational opportunity to improve our understanding about the history of slavery. This is particularly important given the the existence of systemic anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism in education, housing, employment, health, criminal justice, politics and other areas that can be directly traced to the history of slavery and colonialism in Canada.
“Declaring August 1 as Emancipation Day will provide members of the Black and Indigenous communities an oppurtunity to come together to celebrate our achievements, cultures, traditions, innovation, and leadership through artistic expression, including music, theatre, spoken word and dance. We hope that we will be able to celebrate the first official Emancipation Day on August 1, 2021 from coast to coast to coast.”
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