FreeUp! 2021 – A special series to celebrate Emancipation Day

FreeUp Emancipation Day 2021

The FreeUp! variety series will launch on August 1st. The mission is to celebrate Emancipation Day as an enduring symbol for freedom and dignity.

Emancipation Day commemorates the historic day when slavery was abolished throughout the British Empire on August 1st, 1834; it follows that our first offering will be a variety special called FreeUp! Emancipation Day, which celebrates freedom through performing arts.

The series, which will be hosted by Celebrator-in-Chief Ngozi Paul, will highlight this year’s FreeUp! Emancipation Day blended with archival images of Black Canadian history and soundbites from interviews. This will be followed by “Adaptations” a Canadian Afro-Indigenous dance performance.

FreeUp! Emancipation Day invites Canadians to join us on a coast-to-coast celebration of freedom. From Toronto’s Little Jamaica to Africville, Nova Scotia, to the fields of Saskatoon, we enjoy fresh new art interwoven with long-established heritage.

Haviah Mighty

Each segment of FreeUp includes a combination of either music, poetry, theatre, or dance. Our talented performers share their artistic offering, embodying their present journey of freedom and emancipation accompanied by the beauty of our vast Canadian landscape serving as the backdrop.

Expect powerful performances by Canadian legend Kardinal Offishall, Polaris Prize winner Haviah Mighty, and celebrated mono-dramatist d’bi.young anitafrika. They will share the stage with young artist-activists such as Anyika Mark, poet laureates Randell  Adjei and Peace Akintade,  and Juno-nominated artists Silla + Rise.

Episode two, FreeUp! What Does Freedom Mean to You?, is a half-hour variety show for Black History Month that asks performers, “What does freedom mean to you?” We’re going on a journey across the country, from coast-to-coast, bringing to life our hidden history with the help of Black Canadian artists.

We travel to the east coast, going to Africville where for over a hundred years the African Nova Scotian community resided, but in the 1960s the community was forcibly relocated, destroying the community in the process.

We then take a flight over to the neighbourhood of Little Burgundy  in Montreal, where  we follow Rito Joseph who uncovers the hidden gems between the city streets and how the sounds of jazz were the score for resistance and liberation.

Kardinal Offishall

In Little Jamaica, a newly made heritage spot — Anyika Mark will speak to the rich cultural heritage and vibrancy of the neighbourhood in her theatrical offering scored with the sounds of reggae and dub poetry.

Then we fly across to beautiful British Columbia where  in Hogan’s Alley, Vancouver, we discover the rock legend Jimi Hendrix’s deep roots and connection to the community. Rising star, Bukola, electrically performs her response to this legacy through guitar and song.

FreeUp! Freedom Portraits is a series of short video biographical portraits, where we hear  from artists, celebrities, athletes, community leaders, and young change-makers on what freedom means to them as they connect to the here  and now. They will be strategically released from July 2021 through February 2022 via multiple social media platforms.

One of the frustrations often expressed with Black History Month is that it is temporary, taking place on the shortest month of the year and then forgotten until the next. FreeUp! Freedom Portraits is one way that we keep growing that investment all year!

FreeUp! invites the audience to experience the artistic and historical legacy of freedom, engaging the ongoing project of emancipation from culturally diverse

Ngozi Paul

perspectives and appreciating our common ground, while encouraging us all to contribute our unique voices to this most essential conversation.