Today, Emancipation Month was proclaimed in Toronto. Throughout August, the City will offer programming to acknowledge the legacy and history of slavery in Canada and to celebrate its abolishment.
On August 1, 1834, the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 came into effect across the British Empire, emancipating more than 800,000 enslaved Africans in British-controlled regions around the world, including Canada.
In 2021, the Government of Canada officially designated August 1 as Emancipation Day across Canada. In Toronto, the month of August is recognized as Emancipation Month. This year, Toronto residents can participate in a range of events designed to engage the public and empower Black Torontonians, including a flag raising, spiritual ceremonies, programming at some of Toronto’s history museums, an art series and exhibitions.
To launch Emancipation Month, the City’s Confronting Anti-Black Racism unit (CABR) will host an in-person flag raising ceremony and community gathering on Tuesday, August 2 to mark the beginning of Emancipation Month 2022:
Date: Tuesday, August 2
Time: 3 p.m.
Location: Mel Lastman Square, 5100 Yonge St., North York
The ceremony will include the raising of the Black Liberation flag, remarks from Dr. Akwatu Khenti, Director of Community Resources at the City, a spiritual grounding by Elder/Priest Aina-Nia Ayo’dele and High Chief Bamidele, and a youth presentation from Kambi Ya Watoto from the Caribbean African Canadian Social Services CAFCAN’s Children’s camp.
The Black Liberation flag will also be raised at Scarborough Civic Centre and City Hall and the Toronto Sign will be illuminated in red, black and green.
Event information can be found on the City’s Confronting Anti-Black Racism webpage.
Fort York National Historic Site
On August 1, Fort York will provide special Emancipation Day programming featuring Read(In) activations, song, dance and poetry presented in partnership with the Ontario Black History Society and Remember the 400. Fort York is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Programming starts at noon. More information is available on the City’s Fort York National Historic Site webpage.
To celebrate Emancipation Month, Toronto History Museums will launch new programming for the City’s Awakenings program. This new programming includes a group art show featuring artwork by local Black artists, live performances and a series of interactive art installations.
Dis/Mantle, an art exhibit inspired by the efforts of Black abolitionists, reimagines Spadina Museum using an Afrofuturism narrative: Mrs. Pipkin, the formerly enslaved freedom seeker who worked as a laundress in the house is now the homeowner and the house is a safe haven for those seeking freedom through the Underground Railroad.
On view from August 5 to December 31, the group show includes soundscapes, ceramics and visual art by Canadian artists from the Afro Caribbean diaspora, including lead artist Gordon Shadrach. Shadrach’s work will feature local and notable figures in the Black community who have shown leadership and contributed to art, sports, commerce and culture including Toronto Raptors players, Tanisha Scott, Julien Christian Lutz pka Director X, Naki Osutei and more, Odario Williams (Live Music), Roger Mooking (Culinary Installation) Sharon Norwood (Ceramics), Jabari “Elicser” Elliott (Graffiti Sculptures), Christine Nnawuchi (Ceramics), Lillian Allen (Soundscape), Alessandra De Oliveira (Apothecary) and Moraa Stump (Quilted Freedom Banner).
Dis/Mantle Evening takes place August 5 and 6 from 6 to 11 p.m., a free two-night-only interactive experience of visual, textile, audio, decorative, performing and culinary arts. The evening features art installations and experiences by more than 15 local Black artists, including Poet Laureate Randell Adjei, to give rise to the under-represented history of the Black community in Toronto.
More information is available on the City’s Dis/Mantle webpage. The event’s social media tags are #DisMantle and #Awakenings.
Read(In) by Roger Mooking is a new, city-wide initiative that will engage the public to unlearn dominant colonial narratives and is a call to action for new narratives to be told. This series of interactive art installations invites the public to sit, read, share and discuss what a conscious new world we can create. The initiative highlights diverse authors whose books have been banned in Canada and the United States because of their equity-deserving content and inclusive themes.
The Read(In) promotional video is available on YouTube.
People are encouraged to participate in the Read(In) movement and share through social media with Toronto History Museums on Twitter (@TOHistory) and on Facebook and Instagram (@tohistorymuseums) using hashtags #ReadIn and #Awakenings. More information is available on the City’s Festivals & Events webpage.
Think Like a Champion
A new Awakenings program with renowned artist and performer Jully Black, Think Like a Champion, aims to empower the mind, body and soul. A free two-hour session includes a Word to Rite writing workshop on one’s personal experience, followed by an exercise session led by Jully Black’s The Power of Step program. Register for free on the City’s Think Like a Champion webpage.
Awakenings is a series of art projects created within Toronto History Museums by Black, Indigenous, artists of colour and artists within the 2SLGBTQ+ community operating under the principles of anti-oppression, anti-colonialism and anti-racism.
The City is grateful to community partner the Toronto Raptors and media partner 106.5 ELMNT FM for their support of the Awakenings program.
More Toronto History Museums Emancipation Month events and content will launch in August visit the Toronto History Museums webpage for updates.
Entry to all 10 Toronto History Museums is now permanently free for everyone. More information is available on the Plan Your Museum Visit webpage.
Toronto is home to more than 2.9 million people whose diversity and experiences make this great city Canada’s leading economic engine and one of the world’s most diverse and livable cities. As the fourth largest city in North America, Toronto is a global leader in technology, finance, film, music, culture and innovation, and consistently places at the top of international rankings due to investments championed by its government, residents and businesses. For more information visit the City’s website or follow us on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.