Aug 01, 2022

By Steve Kee

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Today is Emancipation Day, which marks the day in 1834 when slavery was abolished in most British colonies, including Canada.

Black leaders and scholars are renewing their calls for Ottawa to make a formal apology for the country’s history of slavery and its inter-generational harms.

Dalhousie University history professor Afua Cooper says she first asked for an official apology in 2007 and when it didn’t come — and has yet to — it signaled that Black people are not seen as fully-fledged citizens.

Historian Elise Harding-Davis says last year’s unanimous vote to proclaim the holiday may have been a good step forward, but the gesture is still lacking.

Harding-Davis, the author and former curator of Ontario’s Amherstburg Freedom Museum, says while the proclamation is an acknowledgment that slavery and its after-effects have deeply harmed Black people in Canada, the mindset and societal structures that enabled it didn’t end.

Emancipation Day recognizes the day that the Slavery Abolition Act came into force, thus ending slavery in most British colonies including Canada, and freeing over 800-thousand people.

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