July 29, 2022
In 1834 the British Parliament abolished slavery in the British Empire. In March 2021, Canada’s House of Parliament finally voted to recognize the end of this atrocious part of our history by designating August 1st as Emancipation Day.
Although this day marks the end of the enslavement of People of African descent, Emancipation Day must be observed as the recognition of the struggles of all marginalized communities. A struggle that continues to this day. When we recognize the struggles of the past, we can take steps to avoid repeating those mistakes and move forward to improving the lives of all the people.
We need to realize that signing a piece of paper to abolish slavery may have ended the physical bondage of Canadians of African descent, but the mental bondage, the mental slavery still exists. Nelson Mandela said, “For to be free is not merely to cast of one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others”. I believe that one way in which we can begin to erode this mental bondage is to teach the next generation of Canadians the parts of our horrendous history that has been ignored and to ensure that these atrocities never happen again. We need to learn about our true history and heritage so we can begin to move forward with the healing.
As a society, we need to come up with new and innovative ways of combating all forms of oppression that we experience today. In other words, we need to identify the social, economic, legal and political restrictions imposed on marginalized communities and ensure that appropriate steps are taken to liberate these communities. We still experience discrimination in health, housing, employment, gender, sexual orientation, and economic equality, to name a few. Until we overcome these obstacles, Canada will not be a free and just home for all of its people.
On this second Emancipation Day in Canada, let us all remember the past, reflect on the present and plan for the future. Peace, Justice and Freedom for all.
“A luta continua”
UNE National Equity Representative for Racialized Members