Hundreds people marched in downtown Toronto to celebrate Emancipation Day and to call for an end to anti-Black racism in government institutions in Canada.
Emancipation Day, marked every year on Aug. 1, commemorates the abolition of slavery across the British Empire.
(The Slavery Abolition Act received royal assent on Aug. 28, 1833 and the legislation came into force across the Empire and its colonies on Aug. 1, 1834.)
Marchers called for an end to anti-Black racism in such areas as child welfare, policing, the criminal justice system, arts and culture, education and health care.
Yvette Blackburn, a spokesperson for the Global Jamaica Diaspora Council, said ” we are marching to effect change because the systems and institutions have let us down.”
“With the push of anti-Black racism and the recognition of our value and our work, we must be here to walk on this day to say that changes have to be implemented so that we get rid of anti-Black racism and the institutional discrimination that has been happening.”
The march began at the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto, 30 Isabella St., and ended at the Ontario legislature.
Along the route, marchers stopped at a number of points, including the Toronto Police Service headquarters at 40 College St., where Louis March, founder of the Zero Gun Violence Movement started reading aloud from a list of names of people who have been killed in the city.by police.over the past 42 years.
Overcome by emotion, March was unable to finish reading the entire list which started with Buddy Evans (1978) and ended with in Ejah Choudry (2020).
Yolanda McLean from the Coalition of Black Trade Unions and several others then stepped forward to complete the reading.
March recalled that police brutality against people in the Black community was one of the major topics of a Black Youth Provincial conference held in 1979 at the Scaddng Court Community Centre in Toronto.
“Forty-one years later, the same concerns were being discussed,” he said.