African Canadian Senate Group commends Senate on official recognition of Emancipation Day

By: The Hon. Wanda Thomas Bernard

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Ottawa, June 28, 2020For immediate release

The African Canadian Senate Group (ACSG) was pleased to see Senator Wanda Thomas Bernard’s Motion 83 (Emancipation Day) pass in the Senate today. The motion, supported by the ACSG, calls on the government to officially recognize Emancipation Day.

The House of Commons unanimously adopted such a motion, M-36 in March, introduced by MP Majid Jowhari and jointly seconded by Members of Parliament Greg Fergus, Paul Manly, and Alex Ruff. These motions mark August 1st as a significant day in history, when the Slavery Abolition Act was passed, impacting 800,000 enslaved Africans across the British colonies. “We are undergoing a collective awakening, with great potential for systemic change,” said Senator Bernard. “Emancipation is at the core of any anti-racism efforts.”

Federal recognition of Emancipation Day will make space for more Black Canadians to connect with their heritage, and honour their ancestors. The federal attention to Emancipation Day would not have happened without countless community members, organizations and individuals who have fought for the visibility of Emancipation Day for 25 years.

Senator Mobina Jaffer commented, “My greatest hope is that by recognizing Emancipation Day across Canada, we will encourage all people in Canada to work and learn to understand the lived realities of African Canadians and the lasting contributions of African Canadians in building Canada.”

In addition to creating opportunity to celebrate and mark the history of August 1st, recognition opens the doors to shift curricula from the all-too familiar colonial histories towards the less told stories of racialized people in Canada. Federal recognition will encourage teaching Black history, which is Canadian history.

“Young Black students need to know their history and see themselves represented in curriculum,” said Senator Bernard, “and other students need to understand that Black history is Canadian history.”

Senator Rosemary Moodie, chair of the ACSG, added, “For many Canadians from coast to coast to coast, August 1st is a day of celebration and commemoration. It is an important step that both chambers of Parliament now recognize this as well. I hope this encourages more Canadians to learn about our history and to work towards a more just, free and equitable society.”


The Honourable Wanda Thomas Bernard
The Honourable Mobina Jaffer
The Honourable Marie-Françoise Mégie
The Honourable Rosemary Moodie
The Honourable Mohamed-Iqbal Ravalia

For more information:

Josh Dadjo
Office of Senator Rosemary Moodie

Sabrina Panetta
Office of Senator Wanda Thomas Bernard

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