August 1 is Emancipation Day, the celebration of the abolition of slavery in what is now Canada, the Caribbean, Britain, and South Africa in 1834. The day is celebrated in the Black community, but it is not an official holiday, as it should be. Human rights lawyer and activist Anthony N. Morgan wrote an imaginary letter to an employer requesting the day off (not to be used for real).
“Why did someone steal this portrait from a rural Nova Scotia church?” asks a CBC headline. It’s a story about James Moody, a Loyalist who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1876 and settled near Digby. There’s more to the story however, but you won’t find it in the CBC article.
A compelling lecture last Friday by David Comissiong, a progressive politician and diplomat from Barbados, suggested that the movement calling for slavery reparations is about much more than dollars and an apology from former slave trading countries.
PSA: “Tomorrow (Thursday Feb. 21), Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is coming to Halifax to apologize for anti-black remarks made on Parliament Hill. 400+ years of entrenched and systemic anti-black racism, 4 years in power, and just now we’re getting a visit behind closed doors? Anti-black racism cuts deep. Any apology without payment and full restitution is shallow.”
A powerful little book, written in a day by some 30 children from in and around Halifax, speaks to to the enduring legacy of slavery in Canada and the need for all of us to engage in a serious conversation about reparations.
Nova Scotia Senator Wanda Bernard wants Canada to designate August 1 as Emancipation Day, to remember the formal abolition of slavery in the British colonies, to recognize the magnitude and immense evil of slavery but also the resilience of enslaved Africans, and to reflect on the enduring impact of slavery. On October 23 of last year, at Second Reading of her Bill S-255 Bernard explained why she feels so strongly about this. It’s a very good read.
A book about slavery in Nova Scotia, North to Bondage: Loyalist slavery in the Maritimes, by professor Harvey Amani Whitfield, shows how ownership of enslaved Blacks was widespread in the Maritime provinces, and a major contributor to its economic viability. In a way it’s an invitation for white Nova Scotians to start a serious conversation about reparations.
Raymond Sheppard: “It is African Heritage Month. Our struggles continue, yet now it is time to celebrate our glorious history. It is also time for the government of Nova Scotia to step up to the plate and do the right thing as it pertains to African Nova Scotians.”
Raymond Sheppard on what would make 2019 a better year than 2018.
My hasty notes after attending last night’s presentation on Dalhousie’s historic connections with slavery and anti-Black racism, as well as the preliminary recommendations around reparations the university should engage in.