Home Forums Noticings… 200729 – Remember August 1st

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    July 29, 2020

    I have only recently learned that Emancipation Day is August 1st. It’s a day commemorating the Canadian abolition of enslaved people of African descent. There is a grassroots movement brewing to mark this day in our church(es) with a campaign to create supportive t-shirts (with an iron-on graphic) and a website with some core information about this important day.

    If you’re like me, you thought that slavery was something that happened elsewhere – in the southern United States, and not here in progressive, enlightened Canada. This is not true. Granted, slavery was abolished here 30 years before down south, but as you will read in the piece below slavery was a very real thing in Canada.

    I warmly encourage you to click this link to the United Against Racism website and take some time to learn about this important subject, starting with a short video message from our Moderator. In the meantime, here is an introduction from the website:

    Slavery ended in Canada on August 1, 1834.
    Many Canadians view slavery as something that happened in the United States of America from the arrival of the first slave ships in 1619 until the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, but fail to understand that the buying, selling, and enslavement of Black and Indigenous people went on for about 200 years in our own country (beginning with the arrival of Olivier le Jeune in 1628 to New France and ending with the Slavery Abolition Act, August 1, 1834).
    Canada’s slave trade was dramatically different than what one would find in the southern US, tropical European colonies, and South and Central America due to Canada having no large plantations.
    Even though slavery was prohibited in France, King Louis XIV allowed for the importation of Black slaves to its colonies, including New France (modern-day Quebec), from West Africa. The main purpose in New France for these slaves was to clear land and construct buildings, while some were also servants in households. Historian Marcel Trudel puts the number of slaves in New France at 4000 by 1759 – 2472 Aboriginal people and 1132 Black people. After New France was conquered by the British in 1763, Black Africans began to replace Indigenous enslaved people as the norm.
    On August 1, 1834, the Abolition of Slavery Act came into effect in the British Empire, which included British North America (as Canada was then known). It is estimated that on that day, 800,000 enslaved Black people were freed as it became illegal for anyone to be a slave in the British Empire.
    August 1 is the anniversary of the abolition of slavery in Canada. It is a day for us to reflect and have honest dialogue about the deconstructing of racism in our country.

    Rev. Larry

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