House of Commons Posts An Emancipation E-Petition


Toronto’s Rosemary Sadlier asks Canadians to sign-up and make August 1st National Emancipation Day

By Stephen Weir

Rosemary Sadlier, the former president of the Ontario Black History Society, is using the internet to reach Canadians wanting to see the Federal Government declare August 1st as Emancipation Day across the Dominion.  She is strongly supporting both on-line and in person, this new petition that will, upon completion on February 15, 2018 be presented to the House of Commons in Ottawa.

The House of Commons E-Petition 1289—was initiated by Montreal’s David Haisell on October 15th. He is the Communications Director of the Canadian branch of The Royal Commonwealth Society.  The petition has the support of the Liberal party, it is sponsored by Toronto Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith  (Beaches-East York).
The petition cites the fact that Canada has been a leader in the fight for human rights since the Act Against Slavery was passed in 1793 by the British parliament. “We, the undersigned, supporters of the Royal Commonwealth Society of Canada,” reads the E-1289 “call upon the House of Commons to declare August 1st as Emancipation Day across Canada.” 
“ Please sign, and share, to ensure that this date is commemorated as part of a process of further inserting the African reality into the country’s history,” Ms. Sadlier asks Canadians.
A national movement to enshrine August 1st has been twenty years in the making. As president of the Ontario Black History Society from 1993 to 2015 Rosemary Sadlier contributed to the recognition of Black history though education, research and outreach programs. Her political lobbying was instrumental to the Canadian Government’s 1995 decision to make the celebration of Black History Month a national annual event.
Rosemary Saldier - Museum of Human Rights Photo
Both Sadlier and David Haisell believe it is fitting that this House of Commons Petition has been launched this year.  2017 is the 150th Anniversary of Canada, the 150th Anniversary of Ontario and the 50th Anniversary of the largest Carnival festival in the world: Caribana. Also, 2017 falls within the UN International Decade for People of African Descent.
There is strong support for August 1st to make National Emancipation Day from the cities of Toronto and Ottawa and the Province of Ontario.  The cities have, through past proclamations, long recognized the date.  Nine years ago the Province passed its own Emancipation Day Act in Ontario. 
“ Why commemorate August 1st as National Emancipation Day?” asks Rosemary Sadlier. “It is because that date is the symbol of the beginning of freedom for enslaved peoples around the world. It is the reason that the largest freedom movement in the west, the Underground Railroad, began.”
‘It is a recognition of the resistance of African peoples in Africa, on slave ships, and on plantations,” she continued. “ It is part of the history of our rebellions from Haiti and Toussaint L'Overture through to Nat Turner, and from Nanny of the Maroons through to Harriet Tubman.”
To date, almost 100 people have signed the petition (600+ signed an earlier version of it as well). Over 70% of the signatures are from Ontario residents. As people like Rosemary Sadlier continue to get the word about the petition, organizers are expecting a dramatic increase in support of the National Day campaign.
“Please sign, and share, to help to ensure that this date is commemorated as part of a process of further inserting the African reality in Canada's history,” said Rosemary Sadlier. “Join the initiative at https://petitions.ourcommons.ca/en/Petition/Sign/e-1289

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