Emancipation Day

the Pan-African flag blowing in the wind on a flag pole

What is Emancipation Day?

Emancipation Day is the day when the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 became law across the British Empire, including Canada on August 1st, 1834. On this day, the practice of slavery officially ended for millions of African people and their descendants in Canada and around the world.

On March 24th, 2021, members of parliament unanimously voted to designate August 1st as Emancipation Day in Canada. On April 13th, 2021, the province of Nova Scotia followed the federal declaration by officially introducing legislation to annually recognize August 1st as Emancipation Day, the anniversary of the abolition of slavery in the British Empire, in Nova Scotia.

Why Celebrate Emancipation Day?

  • Haligonians are encouraged to observe Emancipation Day as an opportunity to learn more about the history of African Nova Scotian people and communities, and to continue to address and eradicate systemic anti-Black racism.
  • The day will also allow us, as a community, to reflect and acknowledge our shared history of the enslavement of people of African descent in Canada.
  • Celebrating Emancipation Day will also provide us with an opportunity to maintain ongoing meaningful dialogue around race relations and inclusive society.
  • Most importantly, the day should allow every citizen to begin to take action.

Commemorating Emancipation Day

Emancipation Day 2023 Events

  • Raising of the Pan-African Flag
    Tuesday, August 1st, 2023 | 9:00 am to 11:00 am.
    Grand Parade, 1770 Barrington Street

Please join us for light refreshments in City Hall following the flag raising portion of the event.

  • Emancipation Evening Event
    Tuesday, August 1st, 2023 | 6:00 pm to 9:30 pm.
    Grand Parade, 1770 Barrington Street

Join us on Emancipation Day for an unforgettable celebration of freedom and unity! We are thrilled to present an incredible lineup of performances that will captivate your senses and inspire your soul. From the electrifying sounds of Asia & NuGruv to the soulful rhythms of Rhythm of Africa, and the powerful spoken word by HRM Youth Poet Laureates Damini Awóyígà and Asiah Sparks, our talented artists will take you on a cultural journey like no other.


Emancipation Day invitation

How can you recognize Emancipation Day?

  • Attend and participate in events around the province.
  • Engage in conversation around the history of enslavement and its impacts on our region and across the nation.
  • Recognize and embrace the history of African Nova Scotians as part of our collective history.
  • Find meaningful and respectful ways to remember the many souls lost during the transatlantic slave trade.

Resources for Emancipation Day