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Today Canada marks Emancipation Day, the anniversary of the official abolition of slavery in Canada in 1834; this year is the first time that this significant date is commemorated nationally

OTTAWA, August 1, 2021

In March 2021, the House of Commons voted unanimously to designate August 1 of every year as Emancipation Day, a day that many Black Canadian communities have already been commemorating for decades. On this day in 1834, the Slavery Abolition Act, 1833 took effect, which laid a pathway to freeing enslaved people in British North America, now known as Canada

Today, as we officially mark the first national Emancipation Day across the country, we acknowledge the dark history of slavery and its persisting consequences in Canada, remember the injustices forced upon people of African descent, and recognize their resilience and perseverance in overcoming adversity throughout our history. Today, we also recognize that Indigenous peoples were subjected to slavery in what is now Canada, and that the legacy of colonization has had negative implications on generations of people of African descent and Indigenous peoples, which we are working hard to repair.

This day is an opportunity to reflect and stand up to anti-Black racism and all intersecting forms of discrimination. Today and everyday, we work to renew our commitment to equality, social justice, and the fight against racism, along with our collective remembrance and duty to protect and preserve essential human rights and freedoms. This is part of our commitment to the International Decade for People of African Descent and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

As we reflect on our history as a nation, we know that there is still work to be done to combat all forms of racism and discrimination. Learning more about Canada’s true history and the place that Black Canadians have occupied for centuries is part of this work.

As Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth, I encourage all Canadians to learn more about the history of slavery in Canada so we can learn, reflect, and grow from our past mistakes. I also encourage Canadians to honour the resilience and important contributions of people of African descent and denounce all forms of racial discrimination fueled by racism, hate, xenophobia, and bigotry.

Let’s all work together towards a safer and consciously more inclusive society where everyone is able to participate fully. 

Aidan Strickland

Press Secretary

Office of the Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth

aidan.strickland@canada.ca