Skip to main content Start of content
Start of content

e-2764 (Social affairs and equality)

E-petition
Initiated by Vanessa Fells from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the House of Commons

Whereas:
  • Canada actively participated in the transatlantic slave trade and enslavement of African People;
  • Systemic anti-Black racism exists in Canada today and is directly linked to enslavement;
  • Black Canadian Lives Matter;
  • The Province of Nova Scotia is the birthplace of Black history in Canada dating back to 1605, the origin of African enslavement in Canada;
  • African Nova Scotians are a distinct people who continue to make significant contributions to all aspects of life in Canada;
  • The United Nations declared 2015-2024 the International Decade for People of African Descent and called for nations to acknowledge and apologize for the suffering and evils of the enslavement of African People;
  • The UN Working Group's recommendations during their trip to Canada included an apology for enslavement historical injustices and to legally recognize African Canadians as a distinct group;
  • The Government of Canada has thus far failed to acknowledge and apologize for Canada’s role in the enslavement of African People and their descendants; and
  • The failure of the Senate to pass Bill S-255 and officially recognize August 1 as Emancipation Day to commemorate the abolition of slavery.
We, the undersigned, African Canadians, citizens and residents of Canada, call upon the House of Commons to pass a resolution for the Government of Canada to apologize for Canada’s role in the enslavement of African People and their descendants, publicly acknowledge Black Canadians as a distinct people, recognize August 1 annually as Emancipation Day and renew Canada’s commitment to addressing the generational effects of enslavement, segregation and systemic anti-Black racism.

Response by the Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): ADAM VAN KOEVERDEN

The Government would like to thank the petitioners for their request that calls upon the House of Commons to pass a resolution for the Government of Canada to apologize for Canada’s role in the enslavement of African People and their descendants, publicly acknowledge Black Canadians as a distinct people, recognize August 1 annually as Emancipation Day and renew Canada’s commitment to addressing the generational effects of enslavement, segregation and systemic anti-Black racism.

Black history is Canadian history.

The Government of Canada recognizes the enslavement of African people in Canada and the racism, prejudice, inequalities, and systemic barriers that Canadians of African descent continue to face. The Government also recognizes the importance of sharing the history of Black Canadians, promoting Black cultural heritage, and continuing to highlight the significant contributions Black Canadians have made and continue to make to the settlement, growth, and development of Canada.

In December 1995, following a motion from the Honourable Jean Augustine, the House of Commons officially recognized February as Black History Month in Canada. In 1996, the first Black History Month was celebrated and the Government of Canada’ public education and promotional activities related to Canadians of African descent has continued, happening year round and not being limited to just February. For example, in 2017, in the context of Canada 150 and Emancipation Day celebrations, the Department of Canadian Heritage worked with organisations that serve Black communities in Ontario and Nova Scotia to support their hosting of Canadian Heritage's "On the Road North" travelling exhibit.

On January 30, 2018, on behalf of the Government of Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau officially recognized the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024). The theme of the decade is “People of African descent: recognition, justice and development.” On July 17, 2019, the Government of Canada released Building a Foundation of Change: Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy (2019-2022), which included the creation of a new Anti-Racism Action Program and the creation of an Anti-Racism Secretariat. The Secretariat is committed to advancing human rights by collaborating with equity seeking groups, all orders of government, and all sectors of society in dismantling systemic racism in Canada. It is a one-stop shop for anti-racism resources and tools. This work also involves helping government departments identify systemic barriers and gaps in initiatives, implement new responsive efforts, and track impacts with the aim of better community outcomes.

On July 31,  2020, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada announced four new designations under the National Program of Historical Commemoration, as part of the effort to shed light on the collective and personal experiences of Black Canadians and their struggles for freedom, equality and justice.  One of these new designations, The Enslavement of African People in Canada (c. 1629–1834), recognizes the national historic significance of the over 4,000 enslaved people of African descent in the British and French colonies that later became Quebec, Ontario, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick, as well as the exploitation, physical, sexual, and psychological violence they were subjected to.

On September 9, 2020, the Prime Minister announced the launch of Canada’s first-ever Black Entrepreneurship Program, which will help thousands of Black business owners recover from the COVID-19 crisis and help build back better.

And on October 15, 2020, the Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth announced the 85 projects that would receive funding under the new Anti-Racism Action Program. These projects will help national, regional, and local organizations make real change on the ground, in their communities and across Canada.

It is important that Canadians continue to learn about the full scope of our history. While much work remains to be done to address the intergenerational trauma caused by slavery and dismantle its enduring legacy, the Government of Canada knows that learning this history is key to understanding and addressing the realities that Black Canadians continue to face. We will continue to work with community to build back better and consciously more inclusive.  

Open for signature
July 29, 2020, at 9:04 a.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
August 28, 2020, at 9:04 a.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Andy Fillmore (Halifax)
November 2, 2020 (Petition No. 432-00194)
Government response tabled
January 25, 2021
Photo - Andy Fillmore
Halifax
Liberal Caucus
Nova Scotia
Disclaimer regarding petitions