News release

Nova Scotia Observes Emancipation Day

Nova Scotia will observe Aug. 1 as Emancipation Day, recognizing the anniversary of the abolishment of slavery across the British Empire. Ceremonies in the province began with a virtual launch event held today, July 28.

The Slavery Abolition Act 1833, which took effect on Aug. 1, 1834, legislated the official end of the enslavement of about 800,000 people of African descent throughout the British colonies. However, slavery unofficially continued in some colonies beyond this date.

“It has not always been fully acknowledged that many people of African descent were enslaved here in Nova Scotia,” said Dr. Késa Munroe-Anderson, deputy minister of Communities, Culture and Heritage. “Without the ongoing commitment and voice from our communities in their efforts to share this history, today’s ceremony would not be possible. Emancipation Day is a time of learning and reflection, not just for people of African descent, but for all Nova Scotians.”

Throughout August, municipalities and communities will hold in-person and virtual Emancipation Day ceremonies, activities and projects, while following COVID-19 protocols. For a list of events happening around the province, visit http://emancipationdayns.ca/

The virtual provincial launch can be viewed at: https://www.facebook.com/AfricanNSAffairs and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ACPgEV11vc

Quotes:

Emancipation Day is important because African Nova Scotian and African Canadian history is a part of Canada’s history, and it should be told. Our history has been taught through a Eurocentric lens which omits and marginalizes the truth of slavery across our country. Mary Desmond, councillor, District 2, Municipality of the District of Guysborough

The DBDLI has a focus of creating and promoting excellence in Africentric education and research. The Countdown to Emancipation Day campaign was created to educate and to inspire and to let people know why this day is so important. We are so grateful to all of those who took part in the campaign and have loved hearing from so many who have been following along with us as a new video is launched each day in July. Lindsay Ruck, author and creator of the Countdown to Emancipation Day campaign in partnership with the Delmore “Buddy” Daye Learning Institute

In 1834, slavery was abolished and in 2021, we still have to remind society that Black Lives Matter – 187 years later, and we are still trying to humanize our existence. Education, eradication, empathy and engagement will evolve to true emancipation. Guyleigh Johnson, author and artist

Quick Facts:

  • during the time of enslavement, more than 15 million African women, men and children were victims of the transatlantic slave trade across the world
  • there were about 400 enslaved Black people among the nearly 3,000 residents of Halifax in 1750 – more than 13 per cent of the population
  • enslaved Black people lived throughout Nova Scotia and slavery continued in the province until the early 1800s
  • on Aug. 23, the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition is observed in recognition of people of African descent in Haiti and the Dominican Republic fighting for their freedom in 1791, leading to their liberation from European colonizers

Additional Resources:

Commemorating Emancipation Day: https://ansa.novascotia.ca/content/commemorating-emancipation-day

Emancipation Day community events: http://emancipationdayns.ca

Slavery Abolition Act, 1833: https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/slavery-abolition-act-1833

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Media Contact:

Chad Lucas
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