Emancipation Day August 1, 2021 Toronto
It started after lunch at one of the busiest intersections in Canada – Yonge and Bloor Street. Over 60 musicians, models, street actors and historical speakers, shouted out proudly that it was Emancipation Day in Toronto.
For this reporter it was a joyful two-hour demonstration of street theatre. The Bloor Street animation took place at key intersections between Bloor at Yonge, and Christie Pits with a number of artistic events happening taking place right on the sidewalk and even in the alcoves of fancy (i.e. expensive) Mink Mile stores.
Emancipation on Bloor took shoppers, gawkers and pedestrians through a series of “artistic performance statements” about emancipation including street scenes about the liberation from chains, masquerade, and spectrums of beauty, stereotypes, respect, resistance, and resilience.
Itah Sadu and her A Different Booklist Cultural Centre led this Street Be-In. It was done in collaboration with the Festival Management Committee (Toronto Caribbean Carnival), and the Carnival Arts Community.
The themes for the different presentations were printed on signs that were carried down Bloor St. The placards included titles like “They Came Before Columbus”, and “The Rape of Africa”. The Resilience sign introduced Carnival Masqueraders dancing in the street and needed no explanation to their curb-side audience.
The event started at Yonge and Bloor and ended at Christie Pits with a slave meal picnic in the park. Over 200 performers, speakers and supporters took part in the 3-hour happening.