New Brunswickers celebrate first provincial Emancipation Day – New Brunswick
Over 50 people showed up to mark New Brunswick’s first official Emancipation Day in Saint John.
On August 1, 1834, the British Parliament prohibited the possession, purchase and sale of human beings as property in all of its colonies. The historic act freed approximately 800,000 slaves of African descent across the colonies.
The Canadian government proclaimed August 1 Emancipation Day after two unanimous votes by the House of Commons and the Senate in the spring of 2021.
New Brunswick observed it last year and officially declared it in June 2022.
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Monday’s event at the Saint John City Market was organized by Black Lives Matter New Brunswick. Executive Director Matthew Martin said he knew it was only a matter of time before they could throw a celebration like this.
« As we look at our history, we need to take small steps to recognize our past, and recognizing Emancipation Day is just another small step. »
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Martin said there was still a lot of work to do.
“The chains that served to confine my ancestors may have been removed, but they have been turned into policies and procedures that disadvantage me and our fellow black community members.”
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Community leaders and elected officials gathered to observe the day, including MP Wayne Long, Health Minister Dorothy Shephard and Indigenous Affairs Minister Arlene Dunn.
Dunn said bringing the Emancipation Day recognition motion was the highlight of his career.
She said that while she wants to recognize achievements against anti-black racism, there are still racist attitudes that prevail.
« While we focus on the positive, I repeat, we cannot ignore the dehumanizing history that so many have endured simply because of the color of their skin, » Dunn said.
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“Racism has damaged the lives and destroyed the dreams of many people.
« Minorities, as you know, and oppressed ethnic groups continue to struggle for equal access and the ability to access many things that white people take for granted. »
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