On Sunday, July 31 from 2 to 5 p.m., York University’s Athletics & Recreation department will host the inaugural North Star Emancipation Day event together with local Jane and Finch Black community leaders.
The in-person celebration will take place at the Tait McKenzie Centre and will feature performances from members of the York University Gospel Choir, honorary guests, keynote speakers, local vendors and a special community exhibition basketball game.
Speakers include former president of the Ontario Black History Society (OBHS) Rosemary Sadlier. In her role, she contributed to the recognition of Black history through education, research and outreach programs. Her work was central to the Canadian government’s 1995 decision to make the celebration of Black History Month a national annual event. Sadlier also initiated the formal celebration of Emancipation Day.
The event will also welcome longtime community activist Winston LaRose, also known as Mr. Jane and Finch. MP for Richmond Hill Majid Jowhari will also be in attendance. During the 43rd Parliament, he tabled the Private Member’s Motion, Motion-36, to designate Aug. 1 as Emancipation Day in Canada to honour the important contributions of the Canadians of African and Caribbean descent. The guests will also be joined by former MP for Scarborough-Agincourt Jim Karygianni, who worked with Sadlier as part of the National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada and served as a Toronto City Council from 2014-20, where he served as multiculturalism critic.
In March 2021, the House of Commons voted unanimously to officially designate Aug. 1 Emancipation Day. It marks the day in 1834 that the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 came into effect across the British Empire. Emancipation Day celebrates the strength and perseverance of Black communities in Canada.
This celebration is an opportunity to consider Canada’s role in slavery and the impact of freedom in the past and present, to reflect and understand the barriers that must continue to be challenged today.
Athletics & Recreation is an event co-sponsor. The event will take place indoors and outside. Complimentary ice cream will be served (limited quantities available, first-come first-served). A children’s obstacle course will be available from 2:15 to 3:15 p.m. located by the main entrance of Tait McKenzie Centre (1 Thompson Rd). Presentations and performances will begin at 3 p.m., with prize draws taking place throughout the exhibition basketball game beginning at 4 p.m.
For additional event information, visit yorkulions.ca/emancipationday.