Town Council declares August Civic Holiday as ‘Emancipation Day’

After Restoration Johnson Paper
Town Council declares August Civic Holiday as ‘Emancipation Day’

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Lesley Patel

Lesley Patel is the Communications Advisor at the Town of Oakville - Office of the Mayor & Council. She is a graduate of McMaster University where she received her Masters in Communication Management.

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On Monday, June 29, 2015, Town Council declared the first Monday in August, which is the Civic Holiday, to be named “Emancipation Day” in honour of Oakville’s African Canadian heritage and to celebrate freedom.

“Oakville played an important part in the Underground Railroad,” Mayor Rob Burton said. “We are very proud of Oakville’s role in the abolishment of slavery and our community’s devotion and commitment to helping African Canadians on their journey to freedom.”

Branson Johnson’s pocket watch

Branson Johnson’s pocket watch securely held his February 6, 1855 issued Certificate of Freedom; Photo Credit: Town of Oakville

The motion, moved by Councillor Pam Damoff and seconded by Councillor Allan Elgar, received unanimous support from Town Council.

WHEREAS the first Monday in August is a civic holiday across Ontario;

WHEREAS many municipalities choose to name the holiday after a significant person or event associated with their community;

WHEREAS Oakville played an important role in the Underground Railroad;

WHEREAS Oakville annually celebrates “Emancipation Day” to commemorate
August 1, 1834 – the day slavery was abolished in Canada and throughout the British Empire; and

WHEREAS Oakville’s “Emancipation Day Picnic” dates back to 1850, when African Canadians from across the nation would gather at George’s Square in honour of their journey to freedom;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED:

THAT the August Civic Holiday in Oakville be named “Emancipation Day” in honour of our proud heritage and to celebrate freedom.

Oakville annually celebrates Emancipation Day to commemorate August 1, 1834, the day slavery was abolished in Canada and throughout the British Empire. Oakville’s “Emancipation Day Picnic” dates back to 1850, when African Canadians from across the nation would gather at George’s Square in honour of their journey to freedom.

Residents can take part in this year’s “Emancipation Day” Family Picnic festivities on Monday, August 3, on the grounds of the Erchless Estate, starting at 1 p.m. This free afternoon of music, dance, games, crafts and activities celebrates Oakville’s role in the Underground Railroad as port of entry.

Visit oakville.ca for more information.

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