The celebration of Liberation Day predates the official Canadian announcement by decades
This year is the first time the federal government has recognized Liberation Day, but at least one Canadian community celebrated it before the founding of the Confederation.
On March 24, members of Congress Unanimous vote Designate August 1 as Canada’s Liberation Day. This date marked August 1, 1834, when slavery was abolished in the British colonies, including Canada.
The motion was proposed by Majid Jowhari, a Liberal MP who represents the constituency of Richmond Hill, Ontario. It was supported by Conservative MP Alex Love in Owen Sound, Ontario, and has been celebrating Liberation Day there since 1862.
Owen Sound is the northernmost terminus of the Underground Railroad, a network of secret routes and safe houses where blacks escaped slavery in the United States. According to the region’s Liberation Festival website.
‘Clap your hands from a height’
Liberation Day board chairman Jeffrey Smith said that after Owen Sound celebrated 159 years, it is meaningful for this day to be recognized nationwide.
“My parents may be applauding from a height now,” he said.
Smith said that he was very happy to see that the Liberation Day motion was passed unanimously, and the political parties appeared to be “opening up” to recognize social issues including racism and poverty.
“I think education and the Internet do a great job of making people aware of this. This awareness is changing things,” Smith said. He said the murder of George Floyd (George Floyd) by a police officer in Minneapolis in May 2020 and the riots that followed have also raised awareness of racism.
Smith said that Owen Sound’s festival has been developing over the years—from an all-black picnic to include people of all races, and now recognizes that the indigenous people of the area helped the slaves who escaped on the underground railroad.
From the 1930s to the 1960s, Liberation Day celebrations in Windsor, Ontario, Attracted thousands of participants, Including celebrities and civil rights leaders from all over the United States.
Ottawa teacher Preston Chase released a documentary about his uncle Walter Perry’s role in the celebration of creating Windsor. Tell CBC News In March of this year, Perry will be pleased with the motion passed by Parliament.
“But he might say,’It’s time.'”
For years, Senator Wanda Thomas Bernard of Nova Scotia has been calling for recognition of this day at the federal level.She introduced a Private member bill It was in the Senate in 2018, but it did not pass the first reading.
When the Liberal MP’s motion was passed in March, she said she hoped the move would “lay the foundation for Canada to switch to other compensation.”
“It is important for us to recognize how slavery is truly embedded in the current anti-black racism we are experiencing. [and] The current state of systemic racism that we are trying to address,” Thomas Bernard told CBC Main street then.
Green Party leader Anna Mi Paul, the first black leader of Canada’s major political parties, Said Liberation Day was ignored Time is too long.
“Although people of African descent have been living in Canada since the transatlantic slave trade for nearly 200 years, the natives of these territories predate the colonialists, but people generally did not commemorate Liberation Day and were not educated,” she said.
For more stories about the experience of black Canadians—from anti-black racism to success stories in the black community—check out Black Canadians, a CBC project that Canadian blacks can be proud of. You can read more stories here.