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Emancipation Day an opportunity to challenge and eliminate anti-Black racism

July 29, 2022

Emancipation Day, recognized on August 1, commemorates the Abolition of Slavery Act that came into force in Canada in 1834. It provides an opportunity to recognize the legacy of anti-Black racism in Canada and to commit to eliminating it at the systemic and individual levels.

The transatlantic slave trade and colonial systems set the foundation for racism, exclusion, and assimilation to be embedded within Canadian society. This normalized anti-Black racism within institutions and continues to impact Black populations on an ongoing basis. These colonial systems are the same systems that oppress Indigenous Peoples.

Although anti-Black racism is challenged in more formal ways than ever before, it is not the end of the struggle. There is much more work to do to eliminate anti-Black racism in society, including in the education system, labour movement and beyond.

In solidarity with the United Nations’ International Decade for People of African Descent, the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) continues to demand that the human rights of people of African descent be protected. Urgent action must be taken by governments, institutions, and individuals to provide freedom in the form of equity that is the legal and moral right of every Black person. We must act, every day, to collectively end anti-Black racism and strive for justice.

Only real structural change and an authentic commitment to dismantle racism and white supremacist institutional practices will free society from the burden of colonialism and its effects. ETFO continues to call on the provincial government to enact policy and legislative changes that address anti-Black racism and dismantle white supremacist structures that are barriers to those who identify as Black.

ETFO remains committed to eradicating anti-Black racism through its multi-year strategy, which can be found at