Reclaiming the Legacy of Canada’s ‘Emancipation Day’

Anthony N. Morgan SAVE THIS

Participants during the 6th annual Freedom Train Ride leaving Union Station in Toronto, July 31, 2018 (Freedom Train TOR, Twitter).

August 1, 2019 marks the 185th anniversary of Emancipation Day: a celebratory recognition of Black freedom in Canada. Emancipation Day honors the history, memory, and legacy of Black Canadians’ resistance to white supremacy. It also recognizes Canada’s complicity in the enslaving of Africans and how this colonial heritage stole Black liberation. However, this Black Canadian cultural tradition that once thrived is now barely surviving after more than 184 years. The holiday has significantly waned in terms of its public familiarity, currency, and relevance.

The resulting failure diminishes the tradition’s potential to unify, organize, and mobilize diverse Black communities around a consciousness of Black liberation in Canada. This is also a lost opportunity for deepening community development and fostering a sense of belonging within Black Canadian communities. This lost…

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