George Brown College marks Emancipation Day

August 1 is a significant day as it marks Emancipation Day, commemorating the abolition of enslavement for Africans, their descendants, and Indigenous Peoples in the British colonies (including Canada and the Caribbean) back in 1834. We encourage the George Brown College community to learn about and reflect on the importance of this Canadian history and international movements to combat racism in all its forms. 

Emancipation Day serves as a reminder of the painful history of enslavement and racism in Canada. As we observe this day, it is crucial to acknowledge the enduring effects of anti-Black racism and to confront the legacy it has left behind. Let us come together to appreciate and celebrate the rich heritage of Black people in Canada, recognizing their struggles and invaluable contributions to our society. 

“In celebrating Emancipation Day, we honour the resistance and resilience of Black communities while acknowledging that the transformative power of liberatory movements has always extended far beyond any single moment in time, connecting us to a future that is rooted in principles of equality and human rights," said Jennifer Grant, Associate Vice-President of GBC's Office of Anti-Racism, Equity and Human Rights Services. "We all have a role to play in shaping a just, equitable and inclusive future. Today is an opportunity to ask ourselves: what will my contribution be?”

Access the “Let’s Get Started” Primer for Anti-Racism to take action on racism at George Brown College. 

Emancipation Day was officially observed across Canada for the first time in 2021 but it was celebrated in Canada long before the federal government officially recognized the date. The Ontario government officially designated August 1 as Emancipation Day in 2008. Toronto's Caribbean Carnival (formerly Caribana), the largest Caribbean festival in North America, has its roots in anti-colonial movements and emancipation celebrations from the Caribbean and is celebrated every year on the weekend of Emancipation Day. Emancipation Day events have long been held in communities across Canada. 

There are several events happening around Toronto to mark Emancipation Day. Visit the City of Toronto’s Emancipation Month page for details. 

We encourage you to visit the following websites to learn more about Emancipation Day in Canada and beyond: 

Emancipation Day – August 1 (Government of Canada) 

Emancipation Day: Canada’s Past, Present and Future (Royal Ontario Museum)