While no events took place in Kingston, Ont., to commemorate Emancipation Day on Aug. 1, some groups took time out to reflect on its importance and the end of slavery.
Judith Brown, a historian with Kingston’s African Caribbean Collective, says, “It is important because its a time to recognize freedom from slavery”.
On Aug. 1, 1834, slavery was abolished in Canada, something that has not always been recognized on a national level. In March, however, the House of Commons voted unanimously to officially commemorate Emancipation Day.
The Kingston African Caribbean collective, a group of local people that focus on the African and Caribbean community, are reflecting on what exactly the day means to them.
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“It makes me feel really good to know that people have finally come to this,” Brown says.
“It just shows that people are beginning to understand their history more and I think when they do they look at us differently, and so it means a lot to me to have it recognized because I think it will be a change in the story with regard to Black folk.”
Meanwhile, that story continues to be told by other members of the K.A.C.C. Felix Akol, the group’s chair, says conversations surrounding the topic of slavery are important to have, and making Emancipation Day a federal holiday will allow for that to happen.
“In developing those conversations and trying to educate ourselves on each other’s history, its good to have something grounded that people can look towards and say, ‘Oh, this is significant because it’s defined in this way,” Akol says.
Although K.A.C.C. did not commemorate the new holiday with any events, they say they plan to do so in the future while continuing to educate the community.