“It's time for Canada to apologize for slavery,” says NS senator


““It’s time for Canada to apologize for slavery,” says NS senator.

Since last year, Canada has commemorated the coming into force, on August 1, 1834, of the Abolition of x27;Slavery in the British Empire.

Emancipation Day, August 1, marks the abolition of slavery in some parts of the British Empire.

Recognizing Emancipation Day is just the first step, says Senator Wanda Thomas Bernard who is calling on Nova Scotia to renew its apology for the intergenerational harms of slavery and find repairs.

In all of Senator Thomas Bernard's Emancipation Day speeches this year, she will ask the same question: What's next? It's a question she puts to the federal and provincial governments, and to every Canadian, as the country marks Abolition Day for the second time. slavery in the British Empire.

I think a lot of people saw official recognition of Emancipation Day as sort of the ultimate goal. I see it more as a first step, she explains.

Senator Wanda Thomas Bernard.

Last year, federal politicians voted unanimously to recognize August 1 as National Day. emancipation in Canada. On this day in 1834, the Slavery Abolition Act came into force, resulting in the release of approximately 800,000 enslaved people in most of Britain's colonies.

“Apologies for historic harms are truly important and would signal to African Canadians that our presence, our contributions and the harms we have suffered over the years [are recognized, that there is some responsibility to this regard.

—Wanda Thomas Bernard, Senator from Nova Scotia

In July, Ottawa apologized to the descendants of No. 2 Construction Battalion for the systemic anti-Black racism they faced during World War I.

During the x27;truro historic event, Wanda Thomas Bernard spoke about the history of slavery and how, after its official abolition, anti-black racism took root in the country. According to her, the lack of an official apology for slavery is part of the unfinished business of the Canadian government.

There was a very clear signal that more apologies and more repairs are needed, and that's the next step in that journey, she said.

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Emancipation Day has been celebrated in some cities across Canada for decades, but it is in Owen Sound, Ontario, where a was organized the first festival of emancipation, in 1862.

Guysborough County Councilor Mary Desmond hopes this Emancipation Day celebration will provide an opportunity for Nova Scotians to deepen their understanding of the history of Nova Scotia. slavery and its enduring legacy. Ms. Desmond was shocked to learn that there once existed in the town a whipping post and a slave-selling hall.

“We're still learning because our history hasn't been taught in the school system, and it still isn't. We only receive snippets of information. »

— Mary Desmond, Councilor for Guysborough County, N.S.

Former slaves celebrate the Emancipation Proclamation, August 1, 1866.

While many Canadians know the way to underground, fewer have learned that our country enslaved people of African descent and Indigenous peoples for 200 years.

American scholar Brett Rushforth, who wrote about the slavery of Indigenous peoples, said it was very common in the colonies that would become Canada.

[D]uring the French period, that is, before 1763, the vast majority of people who were held in slavery were Indigenous, said Rushforth, author of Bonds of Alliance: Indigenous & Atlantic Slaveries in New France.

Yet despite the brutality they endured, slaves resisted and formed communities, said Brett Rushforth.

There is not only a sense of victimhood, but also a sense of remarkable creative resilience, a willingness to find meaning in life, he concluded.

For Wanda Thomas Bernard, this second official Emancipation Day in Canada is an opportunity to confront this history and commit to doing something about it.


One of the things that frustrates me a lot is the fact that there is really little understanding of the intergenerational trauma caused by the violence of racism, she said. Not just the violence of individual racism, but the violence of systemic racism.

An activist from the Black Lives Matter movement (the black lives matter).

A spokesperson for the Office of African Nova Scotian Affairs said the department is open to discussing reparations for slavery.

< p class="e-p">Redress or redress involves open dialogue with Afro-descendant communities in Nova Scotia and all levels of government, Amelia Jarvis wrote in an email.

Several rallies and celebrations will be held in many cities across the country to commemorate 188 years of emancipation.

With information from CBC


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