Celebrating Emancipation Day and Ontario’s Black history and heritage

DRESDEN – The Ontario Heritage Trust is pleased to announce digital Emancipation Day activities for 2020, from interviews with historians to musical performances by Black artists. Together we will celebrate Ontario’s Black communities and explore Black heritage in the province.

Emancipation Day commemorates the Abolition of Slavery Act, which became law on August 1, 1834. This act freed more than 800,000 people of African descent throughout the British Empire. Since then, Emancipation Day has been celebrated on or near August 1 each year. It is an important expression of identity for the Black communities and a reminder of the continuing struggle faced by people of African descent toward a more inclusive, diverse society.

Events begin July 27 on the Trust’s social media accounts and run until August 2. They include interviews with Natasha Henry (educator, curriculum consultant and President of the Ontario Black History Society), Senator Wanda Thomas Bernard (social worker and community activist) and Preston Chase (director of the short film Mr. Emancipation). Participants will also enjoy musical performances by The Heritage Singers Canada and the Grineage Family, as well as a tour of Uncle Tom's Cabin Historic Site.

The day is especially popular in places where refugees from American slavery settled – most notably Sandwich (now Windsor), Toronto, Hamilton and Owen Sound. And, of course, the Dawn Settlement in Dresden where Uncle Tom’s Cabin Historic Site is located.

We hope you’ll join us on the Trust’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube to celebrate!


Edward Dodd, Ontario Heritage Trust, 647-272-3482,

About the Ontario Heritage Trust

The Ontario Heritage Trust (OHT) is an agency of the Ontario Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries. The Trust identifies, protects, promotes and conserves Ontario’s heritage. The Trust conserves provincially significant cultural and natural heritage, interprets Ontario’s history, educates Ontarians of its importance in our society, and celebrates the province’s diversity. The Trust envisions an Ontario where we conserve, value and share the places and landscapes, histories, traditions and stories that embody our heritage, now and for future generations.