African Nova Scotian communities host walk/run to honour Emancipation Day

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African Nova Scotian communities host walk/run to honour Emancipation Day
Three African Nova Scotian communities welcomed walkers and runners to march alongside them in the name of anti-Black racism, as Canada officially recognizes August 1 as Emancipation Day. Alexa MacLean reports – Aug 1, 2021

Feelings of unity and pride flowed through the streets of African Nova Scotian communities on a day they’ve always celebrated.

“Emancipation is not anything new to us. So, we’ve been celebrating and acknowledging our ancestry and what our ancestors went through so that we can enjoy this land. I’m glad to see that it’s finally getting some recognition and if you speak with the Black communities, we’ve always celebrated,” Danielle Wright-Jackson said, a member of Beechville Baptist Church.

Wright-Jackson says finally seeing the federal and provincial government recognize August 1 as Emancipation Day is refreshing and she hopes it sparks broader conversations about anti-Black racism that still exists.

Members of Beechville Baptist Church proudly display the official African Nova Scotian flag designed by Wendie L. Wilson. Alexa MacLean/ Global Halifax

READ MORE: ‘Canada’s best-kept secret’: N.S. cultural center says many unaware of slavery here

“What I hope is that our future generations do not have to go through the trials and tribulations that our ancestors and we’re still currently facing due to the anti-Black practices that continue to happen,” Wright-Jackson said.

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North Preston and Beechville were two of many communities that hosted a fun walk/run to not only honour Emancipation Day but to bring greater awareness to Canada’s history of slavery and the current impacts it still has on generations of Black families.

Runners and walkers wave the African Nova Scotian flag high in North Preston. Alexa MacLean / Global Halifax

“My hope is that this will bring influence to policy, practices — not only within government and institutions but just for the larger community,” Wright-Jackson said.

“Some people are unaware, for some folks knowledge is power and this is a step in the right direction,” she concluded.

People of all ethnicities laced up their shoes early in the morning to gather in Cherry Brook and kick off the day of unity and exercise.

“We’re communal people so we like to gather, we like to group, we like to engage with one another and do it and just be happy, right. It’s a celebration, really,” Mekisha Johnston said, the organizer of the walk/run and co-organizer of the North Preston community group, Black Lives Matter (BLM) – In This Together.

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Johnston says she hopes to see walk/run become an annual Emancipation Day event that’s hosted in communities across Canada.

“I just want people to celebrate, be happy, our communities are very vibrant. So, continue, be upbeat, we have lots of hurdles that we still have to climb but we’ll do this together,” Johnston said.

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