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The motion below, moved by Councillor Carol Merton, was unanimously approved at Owen Sound City Council on July 27.

Preamble: For many years Grey County and Owen Sound have been recognized for their important part in the history of the Underground Railroad and Black immigration into Canada.

Emancipation Day is celebrated here with the annual Emancipation Day Festival, one of the longest running festivals in North America. This year’s event, the 158th, will be virtual, starting at 11:00 AM on Saturday, August 1 on YouTube.

Prior to the Underground Railroad, Black Loyalists fought for the Crown in the War of 1812 both as British Army regulars and members of the Militia. Many received land grants and freedom for their effort.

2020 marks the 200th anniversary of the first Black settlement in Grey County, which began as early as 1820, several years before other settlers arrived. Those early Black settlers built the Old Durham Road and then settled along it.

Motion: That Owen Sound Council acknowledges and supports the following Private Members Bill put forward by Majid Jowhari: M-36, Emancipation Day, 43rd Parliament, 1st Session that reads as follows:

“That the House recognises that:

a) The British Parliament abolished slavery in the British Empire as of August 1, 1834; and

b) Slavery existed in the British North America prior to its abolition in 1834; and

c) Abolitionists and others who struggled against slavery, including those who arrived in Upper and Lower Canada by the Underground Railroad, have historically celebrated August 1 as Emancipation Day; and

d) The Government of Canada announced on January 30, 2018 that it would officially recognize the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent to highlight the important contributions that people of African Descent have made to Canadian society, and to provide a platform for confronting anti-Black racism; and

e) the heritage of Canada’s peoples of African descent and the contributions they have made and continue to make to Canada and in the opinion of the House, the government should designate August 1 of every year as “Emancipation Day” in Canada.” and

That support for this motion be sent to our Member of Parliament and all House of Commons representatives; and

That support for this motion be sent to all Municipalities.

The Municipality of Chatham-Kent, which also has an important part in the history of the Underground Railroad, passed a similar motion last week.

image: International Decade for People of African Descent symbol

 

 

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