Emancipation Day

Emancipation Day Quick Facts

2021 DateAugust 1, 2021
2022 DateAugust 1, 2022
Emancipation Day

Emancipation Day History

Emancipation Day seeks to celebrate the abolishment of slavery in Canada. The governor of Upper Canada (now Ontario) John Graves Simcoe was able to pass legislation in 1793 that helped end slavery in Canada. Called the Act Against Slavery, the legislation would eventually lead to the abolishment of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade in 1807. In 1833, the Slavery Abolition Act would bring an end to slavery throughout Canada. In the following years, Canada would become a haven for slaves fleeing from the United States.

Emancipation Day was established in 2008 by Royal Commonwealth Society. It is observed annually on August 1st.

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Emancipation Day Facts

  • John Graves Simcoe’s legislation in 1793 made it illegal to import slaves into Canada. Called the Act Against Slavery, this legislation made it so that any enslaved person entering Canada would automatically be freed. Simcoe's legislation also ensured that the children of slaves would be born free.
  • After the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833, tens of thousands of enslaved African Americans would make their way to Canada from the United States with the help of abolitionists. They used interconnected routes and secret paths, commonly known as the Underground Railroad, to help thousands of African Americans become free.
  • According to the Canadian Museum of History, there were about 4,200 slaves in Canada between 1671 and 1834.

Emancipation Day Top Events and Things to Do

  • Travel to Toronto for the Caribana festival. It is said to be the biggest street festival in North America. Also known as the Toronto Caribbean Carnival, it is a festival of Caribbean culture and tradition. It recognizes the impact slavery had on Caribbean nations and celebrates their struggles for freedom.
  • Learn more about slavery in Canada.
  • Watch 2020's Emancipation Day celebration.

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