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Bill S-255

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First Session, Forty-second Parliament,

64-65-66-67 Elizabeth II, 2015-2016-2017-2018


BILL S-255
An Act proclaiming Emancipation Day

FIRST READING, October 17, 2018




This enactment designates August 1 as “Emancipation Day”, to commemorate the abolition of slavery.

Available on the Senate of Canada website at the following address:

1st Session, 42nd Parliament,

64-65-66-67 Elizabeth II, 2015-2016-2017-2018


BILL S-255

An Act proclaiming Emancipation Day


Whereas the British Parliament abolished slavery in the British Empire as of August 1, 1834, by enacting An Act for the Abolition of Slavery Throughout the British Colonies; for promoting the Industry of the manumitted Slaves; and for compensating the Persons hitherto entitled to the Services of such Slaves, 3 & 4 Will. IV, c. 73 (U.‍K.‍), on August 28, 1833;

Whereas that Act resulted from the work of abolitionists who struggled against slavery, including Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe, who promoted the passage of an Act restricting slavery in Upper Canada, An Act to Prevent the further Introduction of Slaves and to limit the Term of Contracts for Servitude within this Province, 33 Geo. III, c. 7 (U.‍C.‍), enacted on July 9, 1793;

Whereas Upper Canada was the predecessor of the Province of Ontario;

Whereas abolitionists and others who struggled against slavery, including those who arrived in Ontario by the underground railroad, have celebrated August 1 as Emancipation Day in the past;

Whereas the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed by resolution 68/237, on December 23, 2013, the International Decade for People of African Descent, commencing on January 1, 2015, and ending on December 31, 2024;

Whereas the Government of Canada announced on January 30, 2018, that it would officially recognize the International Decade for People of African Descent;

Whereas the International Decade for People of African Descent provides a unique opportunity to highlight the important contributions that people of African descent have made to Canadian society, and also provides a platform for engaging in the fight against anti-Black racism, discrimination and the inequalities that Canadians of African descent continue to face;

Whereas it is important to recognize the heritage of Canada’s Black communities and the contributions they have made and continue to make to Canada;

Whereas it is also important to recall the ongoing international struggle for human rights as personified by Martin Luther King Jr.‍, Viola Desmond, Rosemary Brown, Marie-Joseph Angélique and Dudley Laws;

And whereas, in consequence, it is appropriate to recognize August 1 formally as Emancipation Day and to observe it as a poignant reminder of an abhorrent period in Canada’s history in order to allow Canadians to reflect upon the imperative to continue to commit to eliminate discrimination in all its forms;

Now, therefore, Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and House of Commons of Canada, enacts as follows:

Short Title

Short title

1This Act may be cited as the Emancipation Day Act.

Emancipation Day

Emancipation Day

2Throughout Canada, in each and every year, the first day of August shall be known as “Emancipation Day”.

Not a legal holiday

3For greater certainty, Emancipation Day is not a legal holiday or a non-juridical day.

Published under authority of the Senate of Canada

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