Emancipation Day: A Canadian Perspective

In August of 1994, we started Burke’s Books and Picture Framing in order to provide information,  inspiration, and resources for African Canadians. We also set out to create a safe space where we could collectively join our hearts and minds to learn and reminisce about our history and culture, from our perspective.

This means that, on a day like August 1, we would pause and join others of like mind to remember and discuss the importance and significance of Emancipation Day.   

This weekend is a holiday weekend. Many of us will be heading to the lakes and those with access to cottages will be seeking solace outside of busy, bustling big cities.

I do not know anyone who does not like a long weekend. But this particular Civic holiday should be reflected upon….primarily because it is Simcoe day or Emancipation day.

On August 1, 1874, enslaved Africans were set free ( At least on paper). On paper, the degrading system referred to as slavery was abolished. But when we look around at what is happening; we need to ask questions. We need to decide what indeed does freedom and Emancipation mean? 

As most people of African heritage know, although the history books claim that slavery has been abolished—-the aftermath still lingers like a bad stench. It haunts us. There is no denying that racial inequality and Anti-Black racism are overtly and covertly woven into the fabric of Canadian culture.

Much like the lead abolitionists ( Lord Simcoe) was disappointed at the 1793 wording of the legislation to abolish the evil and demonizing system. I am sure that he would cringe at the current atrocities that are still occurring in the name of freedom.

Yes—It is a holiday weekend. Yes, August 1, should be celebrated. Yes as Black Canadians we are entitled to the perks and lifestyle that freedom should bring. Therefore we too need to spend time enjoying family and friends. We too want to enjoy the beautiful outdoors—The trees, the parks, the lakes. In essence, then, we deserve to live a rich and satisfying life. A life that is truly free of the burden of Anti-Black racism.

Learn More: Making Their Mark In The History Book


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