This Explanatory Note was written as a reader’s aid to Bill 111 and does not form part of the law. Bill 111 has been enacted as Chapter 25 of the Statutes of Ontario, 2008.
The Bill proclaims August 1 in each year as Emancipation Day in recognition of the abolition of slavery in the British Empire on August 1, 1834.
An Act to proclaim Emancipation Day
Assented to December 10, 2008
The British Parliament abolished slavery in the British Empire as of August 1, 1834 by enacting an Act being 3 & 4 Will. IV, chapter 73 (U.K.) on August 28, 1833. That Act resulted from the work of abolitionists who struggled against slavery, including Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe who promoted the passage of an Act restricting slavery in Upper Canada, being 33 Geo. III, chapter 7 (U.C.) enacted on July 9, 1793. Upper Canada was the predecessor of the Province of Ontario. Abolitionists and others who struggled against slavery, including those who arrived in Ontario by the underground railroad, have celebrated August 1 as Emancipation Day in the past.
Ancestors of Ontario’s Black community were one of the founding communities of Ontario and Canada. The Black community has been present in Ontario for more than 300 years.
The year 2008 marks the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Ontario Black History Society, which is dedicated to the study, preservation and promotion of the history of Ontario’s Black community, and the 40th anniversary of the martyrdom of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the United States of America.
It is important to recognize the heritage of Ontario’s Black community and the contributions that it has made and continues to make to Ontario. It is also important to recall the ongoing international struggle for human rights and freedom from repression for persons of all races which can be best personified by Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Accordingly, it is appropriate to recognize August 1 formally as Emancipation Day and to celebrate it.
Therefore, Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Ontario, enacts as follows:
1. August 1 in each year is proclaimed as Emancipation Day.