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City of Vancouver proclaims August 1 as Emancipation Day ahead of demonstrations

Last Updated Aug 2, 2020 at 9:22 am PDT

(Courtesy Ashley Grace Burr @AshleyBurr_)

August 1 has been proclaimed Emancipation day by the City of Vancouver Saturday

The declaration came ahead of rallies happening at the plaza by Black Lives Matter and Black Freedom Society

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – While more people are aware of the U.S. holiday commemorating the end of slavery, Juneteenth, organizers of a demonstration in Vancouver are hoping Saturday’s event will bring attention to Canadian history.

Prior to the start of the event, the City of Vancouver officially proclaimed August 1 as Emancipation Day to commemorate the abolition of slavery in Canada.

Ontario is the only province that recognizes August 1 as Emancipation Day, doing so back in 2008. 


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EMANCIPATION DAY! This day is a very important day which is why today we MARCH!

A post shared by Freedom march (@freedommarchvancouver) on

Vancouver’s Emancipation Day event was set to take place Saturday starting at 1 p.m. at the Jack Poole Plaza and was expected to attract thousands of people. 

Nova Stevens, the event organizer with Black Freedom Society, says she was excited to see many Vancouverites celebrate Juneteenth but feels several people still don’t know Canada has a history of slavery.

“Thank God it wasn’t in the same magnitude as in the States but it was very much prevalent, which is why again we’re celebrating this day because it’s a historic day,” said Stevens.

RELATED: Black Canadians celebrate Emancipation Day with four historical designations

Stevens says the day is a celebration and attendees might notice a different tone compared to the demonstrations on June 19. 

“We’re just tired of always being angry,” she said. “It’s okay to be angry, but at the same time, you can see the good in whatever situation you happen to be experiencing. There’s a lot of turmoil in the world, but there’s also some good. So we want to highlight the good today. And not just live in the negative.

“We want to celebrate and raise the vibration because love is the frequency. And if we can just express a lot of love today, I think everyone will leave with a powerful message.” 

Stevens hopes people who return home at the end of the day will hopefully create change within their inner circles, which is “the importance of allyship.”

“It’s not enough to show up,” she said. “What are you doing in your circles? Are you talking to your family members, your friends, your co-workers? And when you see an injustice, do you stand up, do you say something or are you just a bystander?”

A stage will also be set up at Sunset Beach Park where Black artists and speakers will perform and address the crowd. Black-owned businesses and restaurants will also be showcased. 

“We want to show people this is the culture that we brought to you. This is what you love so much about us. But why aren’t you loving us?

“Because music is our culture, dance is our culture, art is our culture. Even in times of pain and disparity, we sing. We still rejoice, we still dance.”

Those who are participating in the march are reminded to take COVID-19 precautions and to wear masks, socially distance, and monitor for possible symptoms in the subsequent two weeks.

Another rally is taking place by Black Lives Matter.