Rachna Singh, Parliamentary Secretary for Anti-Racism Initiatives, has released the following statement to mark Emancipation Day on Monday, Aug. 1, 2022:
“Emancipation Day is an opportunity to learn about slavery in Canada and recognize African-Canadian history as part of Canada’s story.
“The Slavery Abolition Act, which put an end to slavery across the British Empire, came into effect on Aug. 1, 1834. More than 4,000 people were enslaved in what is now known as Canada between 1671 and 1834.
“In 1858, an estimated 800 Black settlers arrived in British Columbia to escape brutality and exploitation. To this day, little is known about the lives and achievements of the first Black British Columbians. Their stories were disregarded and information on their contributions to the development of our province eroded over time.
“Many Black British Columbians experienced hardships, discrimination and marginalization for generations to come. We can no longer turn a blind eye to these long-standing inequities.
“Earlier this year, the Province introduced the historic Anti-Racism Data Act in partnership with Indigenous, Black and other racialized communities. The act will shine a light on the systemic barriers facing Indigenous, Black and people of colour so that, together, we can make government programs and services work better for more people.
“We are also working to introduce the broader anti-racism act next year, which will help make B.C. a safer, more welcoming and equitable province for everyone, regardless of their race, ethnicity or faith. We’re also developing an anti-racism action plan for kindergarten to Grade 12, to improve learning experiences for racialized students and equip teachers with the tools to better identify and address systemic barriers for Indigenous, Black and students of colour in our education system.
“It will take more than changes in government policy to address anti-Black racism in our province. We all must do more to address bigotry and ignorance in our communities and learn about the histories and cultures that make our province so diverse.
“On Emancipation Day, I encourage all British Columbians to take some time to learn more about the stories and experiences of Black Canadians and commit to building an anti-racist B.C. for everyone.”
For more information about B.C.'s Black history, visit: https://bcblackhistory.ca/learning-centre/