On August 1, 2021, the clouds parted on a forecasted rainy day to allow for the 1st inaugural celebration of Emancipation Day in Milton, Ontario. Organized by the Canadian Caribbean
Association of Halton (CCAH), led by VP Sheldon D. Williams, this event marks the beginning of a celebration for many years to come. In collaboration with other community leaders – Milton Public Library, Arts Milton & the African Caribbean Council of Halton (ACCH), the day was filled with a celebration of freedom and harmony of a community.
With the generosity of donations, Open Appetite Catering, led by Chef Garfield Houstan, provided mouthwatering food. Their ‘nuff -niceness’ succulent jerk chicken was paired with rice & peas along with their signature salads. Jamaican beef patties were sponsored by Patty Genius and Grace Food donated 150 Grace Island soda beverages for all to enjoy. For the children, chicken dogs, chips and juice boxes were available. Lastly, the ACCH provided delicious African Puff Puff s!
Omar Hopkinson (OmsCreates) of Arts Milton brought colour to the day by putting together an art activation in the form of a mural with the words ‘Emancipation Day’ for all to contribute. Children flocked to the art tables to add some of their personal flare including words that reflected the meaning of Emancipation Day.
The Milton Public Library brought the story of the struggle of freedom to life by creating a story walk to learn about Harriet Tubman. Along the path behind the food stations, pages of the book ‘Before She Was Harriet’ were blown up and placed on signage to read as you strolled down the path. It was great to see all the families visit the exhibit and take in some important history of the Black experience.
With the sweet sounds of Caribbean music, there were smiles on faces, full stomachs and the community coming together as one. The Slavery Abolition Act came into effect August 1st
1834, 187 years ago. We have come a long way; however, there is still a lot of work to do. Coming together as a community is crucial to usher in tangible changes to policy and the confines of systematic racism. Events like this allow us to share the Black experience and become more aware of the struggles as well as the success.
2022, will be the 2nd Emancipation Day Picnic and we look forward to seeing the community come out again and show their support!