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Statement by the Prime Minister on Emancipation Day

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The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today issued the following statement on Emancipation Day:

“Today, on Emancipation Day, we come together to acknowledge the painful history of slavery in Canada and other parts of the world, and to recommit ourselves to building a more just, inclusive, and equal society for all.

“On August 1, 1834, the Slavery Abolition Act took effect and laid a pathway to the liberation of over 800,000 enslaved Africans in Canada, the Caribbean, South America, and South Africa. Since then, people around the world have gathered on Emancipation Day to recognize the incredible courage, determination, and resilience of Black communities who fought for their freedom and for justice.

“The legacy of slavery still endures today in the form of intergenerational trauma and anti-Black racism and hate. To address lasting inequalities and build a better Canada for future generations, the federal government is working to renew Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy and create the first-ever National Action Plan on Combatting Hate. These build on concrete actions that are already making a real difference, like the Supporting Black Canadian Communities Initiative, which helps build capacity for Black-led organizations. And through the themes highlighted in the United Nations’ International Decade for People of African Descent, which Canada recognized in 2018, we will keep building a country where everyone – no matter their race, religion, or ethnicity – can thrive.

“On Emancipation Day, we recognize and celebrate the remarkable contributions that people of African descent, and all those who were subjected to slavery or suffered from its enduring impacts, have made to Canada. From science, business and law, to sport, art and entertainment, Black communities have and continue to make significant contributions to the fabric of our country. I encourage everyone to reflect on the history of slavery and anti-Black racism in Canada and its intergenerational impacts on people of African descent. Together, we can – and we will – build a better future for all.”