August 1 is Emancipation Day in Canada ― a time to celebrate the strength and perseverance of Canada’s Black community.
Emancipation Day commemorates the Abolition of Slavery Act of 1833, which became law on August 1, 1834. This Act freed more than 800,000 people of African descent throughout the British Empire. In the following years, Canada would become a haven for slaves fleeing from the United States.
On March 24, 2021, the House of Commons voted unanimously to officially designate August 1 – Emancipation Day. This day allows us, as a society, to reflect and acknowledge our shared history of the enslavement of Black people in Canada.
Emancipation Day is an important expression of identity for the Black community and a reminder of the continuing struggle faced by Black people towards a more inclusive and diverse society.
Canadians are not always aware that Black and Indigenous people were once enslaved on the land that is now Canada. Those who fought enslavement were pivotal in shaping our society to be as diverse as it is today. The Black communities have been a part of shaping Canada’s heritage and identity for over 400 years. Yet, people of African descent are largely absent from Canadian history books. There is little mention or recognition of the many sacrifices Black Canadian soldiers made in wartime, dating as far back as the War of 1812.
As we continue to build a diverse, equitable and inclusive culture at Medavie ― and as we live our values of being caring and community-minded ― we encourage you to learn more about the history and legacy of Black Canadians.
Explore the stories, experiences, and accomplishments of Canada’s black community:
Visit the Toronto Caribana Festival between July 28th – August 1st, this is the biggest street festival in North America that celebrates black culture and tradition.