Anti-racism demonstrators plan march in Vancouver to mark Emancipation Day

Anti-racism protesters have planned a march through the streets of Vancouver to mark Emancipation Day — a date commemorating the abolition of slavery across the British Empire.

“The Slavery Abolition Act 1833 ended slavery in the British Empire on August 1, 1834, and thus also in Canada. Emancipation Day is a day to commemorate the abolition of slavery in Canada,” reads a written statement from organizers.

The statement said the event is also intended to show support for and unity with the Black Lives Matter movement. Earlier in the summer, large crowds gathered across B.C. and the rest of the country to draw attention to anti-Black racism in Canada and beyond.

Organizers of the event are asking participants to take precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by wearing masks, adhering to physical distancing guidelines, and monitoring for possible symptoms for two weeks following the march.

Nova Scotia Sen. Wanda Thomas Bernard says Canada must confront its role in slavery by officially recognizing Emancipation Day each Aug. 1. 9:31

The event is set to start at the Jack Poole plaza around 1 p.m. PT, and will conclude at Sunset Beach Park where Black artists and Black-owned businesses will be gathered for a celebration of Black culture.

The Slavery Abolition Act received royal assent on Aug. 28, 1833 and the legislation came into force across the empire and its colonies on Aug. 1, 1834.

Since that time, Canadian communities have staged events to celebrate the abolition of slavery. 

Emancipation Day is currently recognized officially only in Ontario, but there is a growing movement for broader recognition across provinces. 

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