CANADA It's time for Canada to apologize for slavery, says...

It’s time for Canada to apologize for slavery, says NA senator


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Emancipation Day marks the abolition of slavery in parts of the British Empire. The Slavery Abolition Act went into effect on August 1, 1834. (Darryl Dyke/Canadian Press)

In every Liberation Day speech this year by Nova Scotia Senator Wanda Thomas Bernard, she will be asking the same question: what’s next?

It’s a question she’s asking federal and provincial governments, as well as individual Canadians, as the country celebrates the abolition of slavery in the British Empire.

Last year, federal politicians voted unanimously to recognize August 1 as Emancipation Day in Canada. It was on this day in 1834 that the Slavery Abolition Act came into force, freeing some 800,000 enslaved people in most British colonies.

But the recognition of this day at the national level was only the first step, said Thomas Bernard. This year, she renews her calls for an apology for the harm caused by intergenerational slavery and for redress.

“Apologizing for the historical damage is really, really important and it will also mean for African Canadians to recognize that our presence, our contributions and the harm we have experienced over the years, that there is some responsibility… there is some responsibility for that,” she said. she is CBC radio. the main street This week.

Listen to the full interview with Senator Wanda Thomas Bernard:

Nova Scotia Senator Wanda Thomas Bernard spoke with host Jeff Douglas about what needs to happen now that Emancipation Day is officially recognized in Canada.

In July, the federal government issued an apology to the descendants of Construction Battalion 2 for the systemic anti-black racism they faced during World War I.

Thomas Bernard spoke at a historic event in Truro about the history of slavery and how, after its official abolition, “anti-black racism” took root in that country.

Senator Wanda Thomas Bernard has been pushing for years for the Canadian government to celebrate Emancipation Day every August 1st. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

She said the lack of a formal apology for slavery is one of the “unfinished business” of the Canadian government.

“There was a very clear signal that more apologies and more refunds needed to be made, and this is the next step along the way,” she said.

6 days of activities in Guysboro County

Mary Desmond, Councilor of Guysborough County, hopes that the second Emancipation Day will give Nova Scotians a chance to deepen their understanding of the history of slavery and its enduring legacy.

The municipality is hosting six days of events this year, from emancipation-themed bingo to a gospel concert and a tea party for the elderly.

Listen to Mary Desmond’s full interview:

City Councilor Mary Desmond and summer student Madison Jordan explain what’s in store for community members in Guysborough County as Nova Scotia prepares to celebrate Emancipation Day on August 1st.

Desmond said she was shocked to learn that the town had a whipping post and an auction house selling enslaved people.

“We are still learning because our history was not taught in the school system and still is not. We only get pieces,” she said.

While many Canadians are aware of the Underground Railroad, few have learned of the country’s 200-year history of enslavement of people of African descent and indigenous peoples.

American scholar Brett Rushforth wrote about the enslavement of indigenous peoples and said that it was very common in the colonies that would become Canada.

This year Guysborough County will celebrate Emancipation Day with six days of activities in several historic black communities. (Robert Short/CBC)

“When you talk about slavery during the French period — that is, before 1763 — the vast majority of the people held in slavery were indigenous,” said Rushforth, who wrote Bonds of Union: Indigenous and Atlantean Slavery in New France.

Yet despite the brutality they endured, it is clear that enslaved people fought back and formed communities, Rushforth said.

“There is not only a sense of victimhood, which was very real, but also a sense of wonderful creative resilience, a wonderful willingness to find meaning in life,” he said.

“First step”

For Thomas Bernard, Canada’s second official Emancipation Day is an opportunity to confront this history and commit to doing something about it.

“One of the things that really upsets me is the fact that there is very little understanding of the multi-generational trauma caused by the violence of racism,” she said. “Not just the violence of individual racism, but the violence of systemic racism.”

She encourages non-African Nova Scotians to look around their lives and ask, “Who is missing and what can I do about it?”

“I think a lot of people saw the official recognition of Emancipation Day as a kind of end goal. I see this as the first step,” she said.

Watch Senator Wanda Thomas Bernard’s speech on the occasion of the first Liberation Day:

Emancipation Day recognition forces Canada to confront ‘its entire history’, says senator

12 months ago

Duration 10:03

Senator Wanda Thomas Bernard says it’s important for Canada to celebrate Emancipation Day to confront its history and fight against anti-black racism and inequality.

A spokesman for the Office of African Nova Scotia said the department was “open to discussion” about reparations for slavery.

“Indemnification or redress involves an open dialogue with African communities in Nova Scotia and all levels of government,” Amelia Jarvis wrote in an email.

On Monday, the provincial government is celebrating Emancipation Day with a ceremony that will be broadcast live. Black Cultural Center YouTube page.

CBC News also contacted the Canadian Heritage Department but did not receive a response in time for publication.

To learn more about the black Canadian experience—from anti-black racism to success stories in the black community—check out the CBC Being Black in Canada project that black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

“Being Black in Canada” tells stories about black Canadians. (SHS)

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