MPs in the House of Commons voted unanimously to designate August 1st as the Emancipation Day across Canada. According to Nova Scotia Senator Wanda Thomas Bernard, the Emancipation Day across Canada will recognize that anti-Black Racism existed and marked an important step toward reconciliation.
Bernard added that slavery is still embedded in systemic Racism, a condition that should be addressed. He believes the say will be an anchor to other forms of reparations. The day will mark the anniversary when Britain Parliament abolished slavery, fleeing 800 000 people in 1834 in most British colonies.
Although slavery was abolished 187 years ago, anti-Black Racism remained. Black people still face discrimination and violence. True freedom didn’t happen, according to Bernard. She further said that Emancipation Day would be a reminder that slavery existed in Canada.
“Most of our history books don’t tell that history. Our history books, our history lessons, the lessons that we’re teaching our children is that we had the Underground Railroad-full stop.”
However, children are not being told that Underground Railroad was indeed a secret network of people who assisted 30 000 to 40 000 African Americans escape slavery. Some of them found sanctuary in Canada.
Bernard hopes that educators will be encouraged by the recognition to teach history that enables people to understand how slavery affected and continue to affect people of Africa descent.
“I hope that having Emancipation Day being nationally also recognized signals and create space for healing the multigenerational trauma not just of the history of slavery, but the history of the erasure of our full history.”