Emancipation Day Statement by NCR RVAC

The PSAC-NCR Racially Visible Action Committee commemorate Emancipation Day and support the call for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to officially apologize to Black Canadians for slavery in Canada

Ottawa, August 1st, 2021

In 2017, a three-member United Nations expert panel recommended the Government of Canada “issue an apology and consider providing reparations to African Canadians for enslavement and historical injustices.” On January 30, 2018, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the Government of Canada would officially recognize the International Decade for People of African Descent.  As we commemorate Emancipation Day and the rights of Black Canadian workers in Canada, it is now time for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to formally acknowledge the past existence of slavery in Canada. 

The Racially Visible Action Committee (RVAC) of the Public Service Alliance of Canada – National Capital Region, in recognition of Emancipation Day 2021, joins the call for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Government to apologize for the slavery of Black Canadians.

The horrific story of Chloe Cooley and her struggle to live with human dignity, was perhaps then as shocking as the story of George Floyd.

Chloe Cooley, an enslaved woman was bound and violently taken by her enslaver from Niagara River to New York State, with the intent of reselling her into slavery. Her heart-breaking story helped set the stage for the governor of Ontario, then Upper Canada, John Graves Simcoe, to start lobbying for the end of slavery in Ontario.

Although he was not successful in ending slavery, at first, he was able to limit this crime against humanity, by passing the Anti-slavery Act in 1793.  The Act not only contributed to Canada becoming part of the Underground Railroad, a safe haven for those seeking freedom, but also the fading out of slavery in Canada and consequently later the Act for Abolition of Slavery coming into force on August 1, 1834, within the British empire, which included Canada and the Caribbean.

We thank Rosemary Sadlier of The Royal Commonwealth Society of Canada, MP Nathaniel Erskine -Smith, Senator Wanda Thomas Bernard, MP Majid Jowhari for their hard work on this initiative and all Canadian MPs who voted to designate August 1st as officially Emancipation Day in Canada. 

We heard from Parliament, now we ask Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to let us hear from him, with an apology. If we as Canadians want to move forward in an inclusive society, we must first address our historical wrongs and provide opportunity for healing.

Racially Visible Action Committee (RVAC) of the Public Service Alliance of Canada – National Capital Region (PSAC-NCR)

For further information, contact:

Fathiya Wais, PSAC-NCR Regional Representative, 613-560-2566