Emancipation Day

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To the University of Lethbridge community

On August 1, 1833, the Slavery Abolition Act was made and said to free enslaved peoples in British North America now known as Canada and most of the British Empire. August 1 is commemorated as a very important time in history and is now known and widely celebrated as Emancipation Day. This day represents the fight for freedom, justice, and equality for black people. It is a time to pay tribute and recognize the black community here and celebrate their hard work, achievements, and significant contributions to Canadian history and society. 

Before the August 1, 1833 act came in place, Upper Canada, now known as Ontario, was one of the first British Empire colonies to have an anti-slavery legislation passed in 1793 by Lieutenant Governor John Grave Simcoe. This legislation ended the importation of slaves in Upper Canada but did not free them. The slavery abolition act of 1833 came in effect on August 1, 1834, but this act only deemed children under the age of six to be free while all other slaves were made to be apprentices who were required to work 40 hours per week without pay as compensation to their former owners. Thus, it wasn’t until 1838 that full “freedom” was given to slaves across the British empire. However, It wasn’t until March 24, 2021, that the House of Commons voted to officially designate August 1 as Emancipation Day across all of Canada.

The University of Lethbridge Students Union (ULSU) in efforts to continue to make our campus more equitable, today we acknowledge the multi-generational harms caused by slavery and recognize the people of African descent across Canada, their cultures, and the contributions they’ve made and continue to make for the betterment of our society. It is important that we educate ourselves about Black Canadian history and remember and acknowledge the many Black Canadians who’ve made tremendous strides in Canada's development, their work, traditions, cultures as well as amplify their voices.

Happy Emancipation Day!

Yours in solidarity,

Maleeka Thomas, International Representative
Kairvee Bhatt, President
Samantha Scott, Vice-President External
Juanita DeVos, Vice-President Student Affairs
Gage Desteur, Vice-President Academic
Coral Skiba, Vice-President Operations and Finance