Resources for understanding Emancipation Day

In 2021, the House of Commons voted unanimously to designate August 1 as Emancipation Day across Canada. The date was chosen in recognition of the day the Abolition of Slavery Act of 1833 came into effect across the British empire, in 1834. Black and Indigenous slavery is a part of our country’s history. Emancipation Day is a day to listen, learn and reflect. It’s also an opportunity to celebrate Black excellence and perseverance, and continue the fight against racial injustice.

We’ve pulled together some events and resources so you can better understand the day and celebrate with community. Please share if possible!


The Black Cultural Centre has a thorough list of community events happening locally and across the province for Emancipation Day. Please note: not all events are held on August 1. Many are happening before or later in the week, so you folks can easily attend multiple events.

HRM’s Grand Oasis is celebrating Emancipation Day with music from Haviah Mighty, Aquakulture, and Jah’mila. The event also includes live art, special guests and speakers, and the Takin’ Blk Market will be in Grand Parade. For details visit:

Tune into the provincial launch of Emancipation Day with a live stream on Monday, August 1 at 10 a.m. Additional learning resources are available courtesy of the Department of African Nova Scotian Affairs.

Further Reading

The Federal Government’s page on Emancipation Day covers the following topics:

  • Slavery in Canada
  • The Black Loyalists and the Maroons
  • The Underground Railroad
  • Indigenous Peoples Slavery
  • Emancipation in Canada
  • Other Resources

Halifax Regional Libraries have curated a list of young adult books that tell the history of slavery and the underground railroad in North America.

The Toronto Public Library has also curated a list of books to recognize the history of slavery in Canada. They’re also holding a virtual event on August 9, called The History of Emancipation Day in Canada. Guest speaker Natasha Henry-Dixon will talk about ways that Black people, in what is now known as Canada, seized, defined, and practiced freedom over time.

Looking for other equity, diversity and inclusion related resources? Check out our other equity related blog posts