Emancipation Day commemoration must ‘come with some real action,’ says one historian

Canadians celebrated Emancipation Day on Sunday, marking nearly 200 years since the abolition of slavery in the former British colonies, including Canada.The day was, as most are, overshadowed by the pandemic — with events made virtual, outdoors or vaccine-related — but also by the long-fought-for recognition of Emancipation Day from the federal government this year.In Toronto, the Jamaican Canadian Association held a joint Emancipation Day celebration and health clinic, featuring COVID testing and vaccinations alongside music and dance, as well as a keynote speech from former MP Jean Augustine, the first Black woman to be elected to Canada’s House of Commons.“We are the descendants of very powerful, resilient people,” said Augustine to a small crowd outside the Jamaican Canadian Community Centre in North York. “We are their dreams. As they held on, as they moved on, they dreamt of opportunities like this — that their children, and their children’s children, would have a better life than they had.”Augustine’s speech included a full reading of the bill that passed in March designating Aug. 1 as Emancipation Day countrywide.Although Emancipation Day has been celebrated for over 150 years in Canada — first in 1836 in Owen Sound, Ont., the northernmost end point for the Underground Railroad — it went without formal recognition from the federal government until this year. Natasha Henry, president of the Ontario Black History Society (OBHS), said she’s often wondered if Canada’s hesitance to recognize Emancipation Day, despite years of campaigning for it from Black community advocates and legislators, stems from the government’s “reluctance to embrace our own history of enslavement as part of our national history.”“I don’t think there was an appetite for it until last year,” said Henry. “I think the social uprising triggered by George Floyd’s death was an impetus for federal politicians to listen and see that this was something they could do to recognize Canada’s situation in regards to systemic anti-Black racism.”Henry said now that the government is recognizing the significance of Emancipation Day, that must “come with some real action.” She said she hopes officials will next address the “scathing” 2017 United Nations report that recommended Canada “apologize for slavery and consider providing reparations for historical injustices.”“Under the act that abolished slavery, slaveowners were compensated for the loss of their labourers,” said Augustine in her keynote speech. “We have to continue to ask, ‘where is that compensation for us, the enslaved?’ ”Augustine said she doesn’t necessarily mean monetary reparations. “I think there are so many things in the system that could create that reparation for us,” she said, such as combating “anti-Black racism, prejudice in the justice system, housing, unemployment and the lack of educational parity in many places.”The UN report links Canada’s history of racial segregation to the structural racism that “lies at the core” of many of these Canadian institutions today.To commemorate Emancipation Day, Henry and others at OBHS spent months planning a free virtual event, featuring speakers and performers from around the country, as well as a cooking demonstration and a history of the Toronto Caribbean Carnival.The Carnival, formerly known as Caribana, is an annual festival in celebration of Emancipation Day and Caribbean culture, which held socially distant events this weekend. Its rich history, dating back to 1967, was captured in a virtual timeline created by Carnival marketing manager Andre Newell.Elsewhere in Ontario, celebration took many different forms. The Emancipation Day Drive-Thru BBQ in Oakville, run by the Canadian Caribbean Association of Halton, provided around 200 free meals throughout the day.In St. Catharine’s, the TD Niagara Jazz Festival held a virtual concert with performances including 2021 Juno Award winner Sammy Jackson.At Milton’s Sherwood Community Centre and Library, there was a raffle for a chance to win local art or enjoy free food at the Emancipation Day Picnic.In Toronto, your first round of drinks was free if you got to Good Robot Brewing by noon. A 5K in-person — or virtual — run/walk by Soleful Runs has been postponed until next Sunday due to weather.Augustine said the “first national Emancipation Day” should be used to recognize the horrors of slavery, the fact at least 800,000 people were freed from it and that racial inequalities persisted beyond abolition and must still be fought — now by a new generation. “I am so proud when I go out and see you all,” she said. “I am going into my 84th anniversary and I think the baton has to be in the hands of all of you. Until we can make this a just and fair and equitable society, we are all slaves until all of us are free.”Ben Cohen is a Toronto-based staff reporter for the Star. Follow him on Twitter: @bcohenn

Emancipation Day commemoration must ‘come with some real action,’ says one historian

Canadians celebrated Emancipation Day on Sunday, marking nearly 200 years since the abolition of slavery in the former British colonies, including Canada.

The day was, as most are, overshadowed by the pandemic — with events made virtual, outdoors or vaccine-related — but also by the long-fought-for recognition of Emancipation Day from the federal government this year.

In Toronto, the Jamaican Canadian Association held a joint Emancipation Day celebration and health clinic, featuring COVID testing and vaccinations alongside music and dance, as well as a keynote speech from former MP Jean Augustine, the first Black woman to be elected to Canada’s House of Commons.

“We are the descendants of very powerful, resilient people,” said Augustine to a small crowd outside the Jamaican Canadian Community Centre in North York. “We are their dreams. As they held on, as they moved on, they dreamt of opportunities like this — that their children, and their children’s children, would have a better life than they had.”

Augustine’s speech included a full reading of the bill that passed in March designating Aug. 1 as Emancipation Day countrywide.

Although Emancipation Day has been celebrated for over 150 years in Canada — first in 1836 in Owen Sound, Ont., the northernmost end point for the Underground Railroad — it went without formal recognition from the federal government until this year.

Natasha Henry, president of the Ontario Black History Society (OBHS), said she’s often wondered if Canada’s hesitance to recognize Emancipation Day, despite years of campaigning for it from Black community advocates and legislators, stems from the government’s “reluctance to embrace our own history of enslavement as part of our national history.”

“I don’t think there was an appetite for it until last year,” said Henry. “I think the social uprising triggered by George Floyd’s death was an impetus for federal politicians to listen and see that this was something they could do to recognize Canada’s situation in regards to systemic anti-Black racism.”

Henry said now that the government is recognizing the significance of Emancipation Day, that must “come with some real action.” She said she hopes officials will next address the “scathing” 2017 United Nations report that recommended Canada “apologize for slavery and consider providing reparations for historical injustices.”

“Under the act that abolished slavery, slaveowners were compensated for the loss of their labourers,” said Augustine in her keynote speech. “We have to continue to ask, ‘where is that compensation for us, the enslaved?’ ”

Augustine said she doesn’t necessarily mean monetary reparations. “I think there are so many things in the system that could create that reparation for us,” she said, such as combating “anti-Black racism, prejudice in the justice system, housing, unemployment and the lack of educational parity in many places.”

The UN report links Canada’s history of racial segregation to the structural racism that “lies at the core” of many of these Canadian institutions today.

To commemorate Emancipation Day, Henry and others at OBHS spent months planning a free virtual event, featuring speakers and performers from around the country, as well as a cooking demonstration and a history of the Toronto Caribbean Carnival.

The Carnival, formerly known as Caribana, is an annual festival in celebration of Emancipation Day and Caribbean culture, which held socially distant events this weekend. Its rich history, dating back to 1967, was captured in a virtual timeline created by Carnival marketing manager Andre Newell.

Elsewhere in Ontario, celebration took many different forms. The Emancipation Day Drive-Thru BBQ in Oakville, run by the Canadian Caribbean Association of Halton, provided around 200 free meals throughout the day.

In St. Catharine’s, the TD Niagara Jazz Festival held a virtual concert with performances including 2021 Juno Award winner Sammy Jackson.

At Milton’s Sherwood Community Centre and Library, there was a raffle for a chance to win local art or enjoy free food at the Emancipation Day Picnic.

In Toronto, your first round of drinks was free if you got to Good Robot Brewing by noon. A 5K in-person — or virtual — run/walk by Soleful Runs has been postponed until next Sunday due to weather.

Augustine said the “first national Emancipation Day” should be used to recognize the horrors of slavery, the fact at least 800,000 people were freed from it and that racial inequalities persisted beyond abolition and must still be fought — now by a new generation.

“I am so proud when I go out and see you all,” she said. “I am going into my 84th anniversary and I think the baton has to be in the hands of all of you. Until we can make this a just and fair and equitable society, we are all slaves until all of us are free.”

Ben Cohen is a Toronto-based staff reporter for the Star. Follow him on Twitter: @bcohenn

Source : Toronto Star More   

What's Your Reaction?

like
0
dislike
0
love
0
funny
0
angry
0
sad
0
wow
0

Next Article

Tokyo Olympics Day 10: Andre De Grasse is Canada’s first male medallist this summer; U.S. shot-putter delivers first political demonstration on the podium

12:24 p.m.: Toronto sisters Lucia Stafford and Gabriela DeBues-Stafford will both move onto the women’s 1,500-metre semifinals after placing seventh and eighth in the qualifying round, respectively.Lucia set a personal best with a time of 4:03.52.11:50 p.m.: Atsushi Muramatsu’s handmade flyers are the size of a business card, written in several languages. “Welcome to Miyagi Stadium,“ one reads. ”The gymnasium next door was the largest morgue for tsunami victims.”Over a decade after the massive earthquake and tsunami devastated northeastern Japan, the Tokyo Games were supposed to offer a chance to showcase how much has been rebuilt. They were even billed as the “Recovery and Reconstruction Games,“ and the Olympic torch relay started from Fukushima prefecture, the heart of the nuclear disaster area.But the coronavirus pandemic means few spectators are coming to any of the Olympic events, including soccer and baseball, being held here. That leaves some Olympic volunteers having to find their own ways to recount their experiences to those rare fans who pass through, as well as members of the media.11:12 p.m. (Updated): In the morning, Raven Saunders of the United States captured the silver medal in the shot put.At night, Saunders delivered the first political demonstration on the podium at the Tokyo Olympics when she raised her arms and crossed them in the shape of an “X” after receiving her medal, setting the stage for a standoff between the International Olympic Committee and U.S. Olympic leaders. 10:03 p.m.: World champion Sifan Hassan made an incredible recovery from a fall at the final bell to win her 1,500-meter heat at the Olympics on Monday.Hassan picked herself up after getting in a tangle with Kenyan runner Edinah Jebitok at the start of the last lap. She sped around the outside of the pack on the back straight and ended up crossing the line first in 4 minutes, 5.17 seconds to qualify for the semifinals.It kept alive the Dutch runner's bid for a rare distance-running treble at the Tokyo Games.9:47 p.m.: Canada has sent its second team to the quarterfinals of the women's beach volleyball tournament at the Tokyo Olympics.Toronto's Melissa Humana-Paredes and Sarah Pavan of Kitchener, Ont., downed Spain's Liliana Fernandez Steiner and Elsa Baquerizo McMillan 2-0 in a round of 16 match on Monday.The Canadians overpowered the duo from Spain 21-13, 21-13.8:50 p.m.: Sydney Pickrem proved some Olympians are just like us after winning her first medal as part of the women’s 4x100-metre medley relay Sunday.The 24-year-old Canadian-American doesn’t specialize in the breaststroke — she typically swims the individual medley — but stepped up as Canada’s second swimmer in the pool. Kylie Masse opened with the backstroke and Pickrem’s role was to keep Canada in contention so that Maggie Mac Neil and Penny Oleksiak could close things out in the butterfly and freestyle legs.Catch up on Olympic notables with Laura Armstrong: Now streaming from Tokyo: Canadian swimmers say the darndest things8:35 p.m.: Micah Christenson gave coach John Speraw a long, tearful embrace as his U.S. men’s volleyball teammates slumped on the floor and the victorious Argentinians celebrated.Instead of building on the bronze medal won in Rio de Janeiro five years ago, the Americans are going home early from the Olympics for the first time in more than 20 years.7:00 p.m. Some day, that thick chain Andre De Grasse always wears around his neck will be swinging a hunka-chunka gold. Just you wait.Perchance Wednesday, after the sprinting ace from Markham, Ont. races the 200 metres that is his stronger distance. For now, he must content himself — and delighted indeed he was Sunday night — with being the third-fastest 100-metre man.The latest from the Star’s Rosie DiManno in Tokyo: Olympic bronze is cool, but Andre De Grasse — Canada’s first male medallist in Tokyo — might be just getting started11:00 a.m.: On Tokyo Daily, host Brendan Dunlop talks with the Toronto Star’s Dave Feschuk in Tokyo after Andre De Grasse’s bronze medal run in the men’s 100-metre dash.Watch the latest Tokyo Daily: Team Canada learning you win some, you lose some at the Olympics10:15 a.m.: US shot putter Raven “Hulk” Saunders raised her arms in an “X” gesture upon mounting the podium to receive her silver medal in women’s shot put.She said the demonstration signified “the intersection of where all oppressed people meet.”The IOC has strict rules against podium protests. No disciplinary actions have yet been announced against Saunders.10:10 a.m.: A Belarus track sprinter alleged her Olympic team tried to remove her from Japan in a dispute that led to a standoff Sunday evening at Tokyo’s main airport.An activist group supporting Krystsina Tsimanouskaya said she believed her life was in danger in Belarus and would seek asylum with the Austrian Embassy in Tokyo.10:00 a.m.: If grasping the many nuances of Olympic-level sailing requires years spent in a boat learning to read the whims o

Tokyo Olympics Day 10: Andre De Grasse is Canada’s first male medallist this summer; U.S. shot-putter delivers first political demonstration on the podium

12:24 p.m.: Toronto sisters Lucia Stafford and Gabriela DeBues-Stafford will both move onto the women’s 1,500-metre semifinals after placing seventh and eighth in the qualifying round, respectively.

Lucia set a personal best with a time of 4:03.52.

11:50 p.m.: Atsushi Muramatsu’s handmade flyers are the size of a business card, written in several languages. “Welcome to Miyagi Stadium,“ one reads. ”The gymnasium next door was the largest morgue for tsunami victims.”

Over a decade after the massive earthquake and tsunami devastated northeastern Japan, the Tokyo Games were supposed to offer a chance to showcase how much has been rebuilt. They were even billed as the “Recovery and Reconstruction Games,“ and the Olympic torch relay started from Fukushima prefecture, the heart of the nuclear disaster area.

But the coronavirus pandemic means few spectators are coming to any of the Olympic events, including soccer and baseball, being held here. That leaves some Olympic volunteers having to find their own ways to recount their experiences to those rare fans who pass through, as well as members of the media.

11:12 p.m. (Updated): In the morning, Raven Saunders of the United States captured the silver medal in the shot put.

At night, Saunders delivered the first political demonstration on the podium at the Tokyo Olympics when she raised her arms and crossed them in the shape of an “X” after receiving her medal, setting the stage for a standoff between the International Olympic Committee and U.S. Olympic leaders.

10:03 p.m.: World champion Sifan Hassan made an incredible recovery from a fall at the final bell to win her 1,500-meter heat at the Olympics on Monday.

Hassan picked herself up after getting in a tangle with Kenyan runner Edinah Jebitok at the start of the last lap. She sped around the outside of the pack on the back straight and ended up crossing the line first in 4 minutes, 5.17 seconds to qualify for the semifinals.

It kept alive the Dutch runner's bid for a rare distance-running treble at the Tokyo Games.

9:47 p.m.: Canada has sent its second team to the quarterfinals of the women's beach volleyball tournament at the Tokyo Olympics.

Toronto's Melissa Humana-Paredes and Sarah Pavan of Kitchener, Ont., downed Spain's Liliana Fernandez Steiner and Elsa Baquerizo McMillan 2-0 in a round of 16 match on Monday.

The Canadians overpowered the duo from Spain 21-13, 21-13.

8:50 p.m.: Sydney Pickrem proved some Olympians are just like us after winning her first medal as part of the women’s 4x100-metre medley relay Sunday.

The 24-year-old Canadian-American doesn’t specialize in the breaststroke — she typically swims the individual medley — but stepped up as Canada’s second swimmer in the pool. Kylie Masse opened with the backstroke and Pickrem’s role was to keep Canada in contention so that Maggie Mac Neil and Penny Oleksiak could close things out in the butterfly and freestyle legs.

Catch up on Olympic notables with Laura Armstrong: Now streaming from Tokyo: Canadian swimmers say the darndest things

8:35 p.m.: Micah Christenson gave coach John Speraw a long, tearful embrace as his U.S. men’s volleyball teammates slumped on the floor and the victorious Argentinians celebrated.

Instead of building on the bronze medal won in Rio de Janeiro five years ago, the Americans are going home early from the Olympics for the first time in more than 20 years.

7:00 p.m. Some day, that thick chain Andre De Grasse always wears around his neck will be swinging a hunka-chunka gold. Just you wait.

Perchance Wednesday, after the sprinting ace from Markham, Ont. races the 200 metres that is his stronger distance. For now, he must content himself — and delighted indeed he was Sunday night — with being the third-fastest 100-metre man.

The latest from the Star’s Rosie DiManno in Tokyo: Olympic bronze is cool, but Andre De Grasse — Canada’s first male medallist in Tokyo — might be just getting started

11:00 a.m.: On Tokyo Daily, host Brendan Dunlop talks with the Toronto Star’s Dave Feschuk in Tokyo after Andre De Grasse’s bronze medal run in the men’s 100-metre dash.

Watch the latest Tokyo Daily: Team Canada learning you win some, you lose some at the Olympics

10:15 a.m.: US shot putter Raven “Hulk” Saunders raised her arms in an “X” gesture upon mounting the podium to receive her silver medal in women’s shot put.

She said the demonstration signified “the intersection of where all oppressed people meet.”

The IOC has strict rules against podium protests. No disciplinary actions have yet been announced against Saunders.

10:10 a.m.: A Belarus track sprinter alleged her Olympic team tried to remove her from Japan in a dispute that led to a standoff Sunday evening at Tokyo’s main airport.

An activist group supporting Krystsina Tsimanouskaya said she believed her life was in danger in Belarus and would seek asylum with the Austrian Embassy in Tokyo.

10:00 a.m.: If grasping the many nuances of Olympic-level sailing requires years spent in a boat learning to read the whims of the wind and the water, Toronto’s Sarah Douglas also trained for her debut at these Tokyo Games in the living room of her apartment in the Canary District.

When she wasn’t travelling the world racing on the World Cup circuit in the laser radial class, Douglas also spent time sweating through workouts on what’s called a hiking bench. “Hiking,” in sailing jargon, is the technique sailors use to balance a boat in full sail, essentially dangling themselves over the edge of the boat, leaning out over the waves.

Dave Feschuk has the story: Sarah Douglas took ‘medal or nothing’ approach, finishes sixth in Tokyo Olympics regatta

Previously: Canadian women’s swim team took bronze in medley relay, springing Penny Oleksiak to become Canada’s most decorated Olympian; Andre de Grasse finishes third in 100 metre sprint, becoming Canada’s first male medallist this summer.

For a full write-up of what you missed on Day 9 of the Tokyo Olympics, click here.

For full coverage of the Tokyo Olympics, click here.

Source : Toronto Star More   

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.