by Rosemary Sadlier
Originally published: August 1, 2017
In 1997, I was approached by the head of the Caribbean Historical Society of Trinidad and Tobago to consider joining the global movement to commemorate Aug. 1 as Emancipation Day. I immediately was supportive and was successful in having the City of Toronto and Metropolitan Toronto and the City of Ottawa proclaim this milestone.
Further efforts, fuelled by annual commemorations, finally were acted upon by the province leading to the first ever all party, unanimously approved Bill 111 making Aug. 1 Emancipation Day in Ontario. I have seen this initiative go to the federal level twice, both times, because of changes in government, getting to second reading.
Now, during the UN International Decade for People of African Descent and now during Canada's 150th celebrations — where the voices of First Nations and Africans seem overlooked, and now during the 50th Anniversary of the largest community festival in the world "Caribana," now we need to ensure that this is achieved.