GUYSBOROUGH – People in the Municipality of the District of Guysborough (MODG) marked Emancipation Day, in recognition of the anniversary of the British Parliament’s decision to abolish slavery across its empire in 1834, on Tuesday, August 1 on the Guysborough waterfront.
The Emancipation Day Act designating Aug. 1 as Emancipation Day, was passed in the Nova Scotia legislature in April of 2021. The MODG proclaimed August 1st of each year to be Emancipation Day in the municipality in July of 2021 and encouraged all to “reflect, acknowledge and hold open discussions about our shared history of enslavement of people of African ancestry here in Canada.”
This year the event in Guysborough was emceed by RCMP Cst. Nathan Sparks and heard from guests including MODG Warden Vernon Pitts; Guysborough Tracadie MLA Greg Morrow; Crystal States, administrative officer for the Northeastern Regional Office of African Nova Scotia Affairs; and MODG Councillor Mary Desmond ,who represents the African Nova Scotian communities of Sunnyville, Lincolnville and Upper Big Tracadie.
Warden Pitts spoke to those gathered at the event following a libation given by African Nova Scotian community member Tonya Pelley. He said, “We must acknowledge that slavery was part of our province, and our country’s horrific past…We must work together to address anti-black racism, and all forms of racism, so all Nova Scotians can prosper, reach their full potential and live as equal citizens.”
MLA Greg Morrow said, “The rich tapestry of our African Nova Scotian communities including Sunnyville, Lincolnville, and Upper Big Tracadie, with their deep-rooted history, heritage, [and] vibrant culture has contributed immensely to the heart and soul of our province.”
Comments from Crystal States reminded those in attendance that not only did Black Loyalist come to Nova Scotia, but enslaved people were also brought here as well. She said, “More than 15 million African men, women and children were the victims of the transatlantic slave trade. And it’s important for Nova Scotians to acknowledge that the institution of slavery existed in this province.”
Rounding out comments for the event was Mary Desmond with a powerful and inspiring message: “No people should be treated as chattel. No people should be taken from their homeland. No people should be stripped of their heritage or their culture. We stand here today through resilience. We stand here today on the backs of our ancestors… We are here today. We belong here… I am here today celebrating their dream of freedom.”