Canadians have the collective responsibility to create a multi-cultural, inclusive society, especially towards its Black community.
The House of Commons held its 73rd sitting, on March 22, 2021, to discuss the importance of Emancipation Day, also known as Bill M-36, a private member’s bill tabled by Richmond Hill Liberal Majid Jowhari.
Emancipation Day, which occurred on Aug. 1, 1834, is a day that recognizes the liberation of the Black community in Canada from more than 200 years of enslavement, because of the British Imperial Act.
This day, first proposed in 1995 by Rosemary Sadlier, former president of Ontario’s Black History Association, is meant to inform Canadians of what it means, especially for the Black community.
“This crucial date in Canadian history is still a reminder that slavery did exist in Canada.” said Greg Fergus, Liberal MP for Hull-Alymer and Parliamentary Secretary for the Treasury Board.
Kevin Lamoureux, Liberal MP for Winnipeg North and Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada, said it’s quite often up to the members of the House to move different types of motions or bills recognizing important dates in Canada’s history.
He said Emancipation Day is one motion “that is really necessary for the House to recognize and support.”
Jawhari introduced Bill M-26 last year, especially with the concerns of the COVID-19 pandemic and global anti-racism protests.
“I realize how imperative this notion is and how important it is for our government to take the necessary steps to address the systemic racism in our institution and society,” he said.
Jawhari also said that in order for the Canadian government to “move forward”, there need to be three principles to be achieved; acknowledgement, empowerment, and engagement.
Jawhari also said as a first-generation immigrant, he understands the underlying tone of systemic racism that Canada’s Black community faces.
“Though I can never understand the struggle that a Black person faces in our world, I can empathize and I can be a fierce ally,” he said.
Fergus, as well as other presenters, hope despite Canada’s systemic racism towards the Black community, this day is able to provide them with a hopeful, systematic approach.
“Celebrating Emancipation Day in Canada is a step towards recognizing the positive contributions of people of African descent to Canadian history,” he said.
The upcoming vote for Bill M-36’s Emancipation Day to pass is on March 24, 2021.