Historian Elise Harding-Davis says Canada’s unanimous vote last year to proclaim August 1 Emancipation Day rings hollow without a federal apology for slavery.
The author and former curator of the Amherstburg Liberty Museum in Ontario says the proclamation is an acknowledgment that slavery and its aftermath deeply harmed black people in Canada.
She adds that an apology would be a long-awaited recognition of the contributions of black people to the history and creation of Canada.
Although Emancipation Day recognizes the day in 1834 when slavery was abolished in most British colonies, including Canada, Harding-Davis says the mindset and societal structures that allowed have not ended.
Dalhousie University history professor Afua Cooper has been demanding an apology from Ottawa since 2007, and she noted in an interview that other groups have received apologies in the meantime.
The lead researcher of the Black People’s History of Canada project says Ottawa’s refusal to apologize for the country’s history of black enslavement is a form of anti-black racism.
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on July 31, 2022.
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