OBA invites you to celebrate Emancipation Day Saturday

Emancipation Day
OBA invites you to celebrate Emancipation Day Saturday
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Thomas Desormeaux

Thomas Desormeaux

Thomas Desormeaux is a reporter and writer who lives close to the border of Oakville and Mississauga. He has lived in the GTA for his entire life and is interested in global events, politics and government. follow on twitter @TommyDesormeaux

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The Oakville Black Alliance is holding an event at 5:30 on Saturday at George’s Square to celebrate Emancipation Day. There will be speeches from racialized people of Oakville as well as a march to Turner Chapel.

Described as a combination of protest and “historical memory,” the event will both celebrate the triumphs and mourn the tragedies of black history in Oakville. Speakers will discuss the history of black experiences in the Town and attendees are encouraged to bring food to enjoy a socially distanced picnic. Masks will be mandatory.


The celebration is being run with support from Halton Hills Alliance for Social Change.

Emancipation Day

Emancipation Day is an internationally celebrated holiday that marks the anniversary of the abolition of slavery in the British Empire. In August 1834, slavery was legally abolished by Great Britain, which freed many black people in places all around the world. Ontario officially classified August 1 as Emancipation Day in 2008.

“We are hosting this event first to commemorate this day, but also to share stories and build collective memory of the rich histories Oakville has,” the Oakville Black Alliance said in a press release this week.

“As a collective, Oakville Black Alliance seeks to deepen the town of Oakville’s relationship to Black histories and to illuminate the town’s history of systemic racism,” they wrote.

Emancipation day OBA


Oakville Black Alliance

The Oakville Black Alliance (OBA) is a group that was created this spring to bring attention to issues affecting racialized people in Oakville. This includes black Oakvillians, those who identify as Indigenous and all people of colour.

The OBA describes itself as representing “a diverse grouping of students, artists, parents and community members and town stakeholders, committed to putting an end to systemic racism in Oakville and Halton Region.”


The OBA organized one of the Black Lives Matter protests that took place in Oakville this spring. Demonstrators marched through the affluent Lakeshore area to Lakeside Park, where there were speeches about discrimination in housing, education and policing.


“As organizers of what many are calling the first anti-racism march of its kind, we are excited to continue moving forward in our advocacy,” they wrote.

Systemic Racism

The OBA runs many social media pages where they present infographics with statistics on racism in Canadian communities as well as tips on how to make your voice heard in the political sphere.

They see Emancipation Day as a good example of an often overlooked aspect of black Canadian history.


“The Emancipation Day celebration is also an opportunity to shed light on the historic omissions in Ontario’s history Curriculum and to advocate for more accuracy and diversity in Halton Schools,” the press release says.

June’s peaceful demonstration at George’s Square.


“Collective Memory”

The march at 7:00pm will be to Turner Chapel, a historical place of worship for black citizens of Oakville in the 19th century. It is just one story of black life in Oakville that will be discussed.

“Oakville was the home to prolific Underground Railroad conductor James Wesley Hill among others. Hill is said to have freed some 700 enslaved Africans before eventually settling in Southeastern Oakville, and propagating a very successful strawberry farm; his home remains today on Maple Grove Drive,” reads the Alliance’s statement.

The OBA encourages all interested people to follow their Instagram page for further details or to email them at OakvilleBlackAlliance@gmail.com.

“Please join us on Saturday August 1st to celebrate, educate, mourn and show our collective strength in community.”


Black Community

Turner Episcol Chapel – 37 Lakeshore Road West; Photo Credit: Oakville News


  • Meet at George’s Square at 5:30pm Saturday, August 1
  • Socially distant picnic, speeches on black history as well as systemic racism, music
  • March to Turner Chapel at 7:00pm
  • Sunset candlelight vigil and speeches around 8:00-8:30pm


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