Canada and the Caribbean have a couple of things in common. Both are home to people with ancestors from different parts of the world. Both also share a very important holiday.
Emancipation Day is a day to remember and talk about some difficult things that happened in the past. It is also a day to enjoy special events and activities, and to celebrate freedom!
Enslaved people cutting sugar cane in the Caribbean, 1823.
Emancipation Day is a day that marks the end of the enslavement of African people. It is celebrated in Canada and most Caribbean islands where they speak English.
Emancipation Day meant, from that point on, it would be illegal for Black people and their descendants (their children, grand children and great-grand children) to be bought and sold or kept as enslaved people.
The enslavement of Black people throughout the British Empire officially ended on August 1, 1834.
This meant all people in Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Jamaica, Bermuda and other places ruled by England would finally be free.
Many enslaved people were taken to the United States. This is a family picking cotton in a field in Georgia, around 1850.
Millions of adults and children were taken from Africa and enslaved in different parts of the world.
These people were forced to do hard and dangerous work. They were treated terribly. Their names were taken from them, along with their religions and their traditions. They were not allowed to speak their languages. They suffered the cruelest punishments.
But these people still fought back against what was happening to them. Historians say there were over 250 times that enslaved people fought to be free.
Emancipation Day is an important reminder that all people deserve to be treated fairly and with respect.
Emancipation Day will be celebrated differently this year because it's still important to keep physical distancing.
These are some ways Emancipation Day was celebrated in the past, and may be celebrated again in the future!
Art is a great way to spread a message. (Toystory/Twenty20)
Let's think for a minute: Why is it important to celebrate freedom? What can you do this Emancipation Day?
Could you write a song or poem about freedom? Could you draw a picture or create a poster? Maybe you could use your computer to create art that shows what freedom means to you.
Emancipation Day is a celebration, but it’s also a reminder of the past and our hope for the future. How can you help make sure that people are treated fairly?