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The Foundation Michaëlle Jean Foundation is proud to celebrate the first official Emancipation Day in Canada on August 1st, 2021. Although people of African descent in Canada and their allies have celebrated Emancipation Day since the mid-1800, Canada’s institutions of governance and education have only recently taken steps to acknowledge the significance of this day and its relationship to Canada’s troubled history of enslavement of people of African descent and persistent anti-Black racism.  On August 1, 2021, Canadians will mark the first national observance of Emancipation Day in Canadian history. 

For some, Emancipation Day 2021, will represent a step forward in a long march of recognition and justice for people of African descent. For others, it will mark the beginning of a broader exploration into Canada past to better understand the present. 

This historic achievement speaks to the strides for recognition and equality Black Canadians continue to make. May the travesties of the past never be forgotten. May the strength and resilience of the Black community in Canada, despite centuries of colonial violence and slavery, be remembered and dignified. May we celebrate emancipation and freedom today and forever! 

Listen now to this special podcast in celebration of Emancipation Day – What now is our past, present, and future? 

In this two-episode Podcast, Sean Foyn of AFRICANADIAN SEARCHERS, brings together Black Canadian activists, researchers, historian, and legislators to discuss Canada’s relationship with the enslavement of people of African descent, the liberationist/ abolitionist movements connected to this history, and the ever-changing meaning and value of Emancipation Day.  

In Episode One, listeners will move from the early enslavement and resistance experience of people of African descent, through the movements for liberty and justice, into the realities of the Slavery Abolish Act, 1833, and arrive at the place of Black self-affirmation of August 1 as Emancipation Day in Canada. This episode will feature: Afua Cooper, Professor of Black Studies, Dalhousie University, Principal Investigator for a Black People of Canada Project, and author of The Hanging of Angelique: The Untold Story of Canadian Slavery and the Burning of Old Montreal; Natasha Henry, President of the Ontario Black History Society, educator, historian, and author of Emancipation Day: Celebrating Freedom in Canada; Talking About Freedom; and Isaac Saney, Director, Transition Year Program, Dalhousie University, and scholar and researcher on the history of people African descent in Canada. Listeners will also hear the work of the nth digri, an artist inspired by the African griot tradition, his Caribbean heritage, and hip-hop culture. 

In Episode Two, listeners journey through the 19th to the 21st centuries to witness the meanings and value of Emancipation Day for Black activism, advocacy, excellence, and futurism in Canada and beyond. This episode will feature: the historians from Episode One; Senator Wanda Thomas Bernard, East Preston Nova Scotia, who sought national recognition of Emancipation Day through a 2018 Private Member’s Bill, and the Motion to Designate August 1, as Emancipation Day (adopted June 2021); Rosemary Sadlier, author, educator, and activist who played a key role in gaining recognition for Black History Month in Ontario and nationally, as well as August 1st as Emancipation Day; Irene Moore Davis, President, Essex Country Black Historical and Research Society, historian, author, educator, and documentary producer; and Dorothy Abbott, Ontario Black History Society, Grey County Heritage Society. Listeners will once again hear the work of the nth digri, an artist inspired by the African griot tradition, his Caribbean heritage, and hip-hop culture.