August 4, 2022 Admin

Artists celebrate Emancipation Day in Shelburne

Source: Toronto Star

Written By: Joshua Santos

It's been nearly 200 years since the Slavery Abolition Act guaranteed the freedom of enslaved Africans in the British-controlled parts of the world. Though scars of slavery's dark history remain, it's an important milestone to be celebrated.

“Emancipation is being released from bondage,” said artist Emily Campbell. “Freedom to live without being afraid to live. Freedom to make choices and be heard. No longer are we slaves to fear. The chains have fallen from our feet and our souls are no longer in fetters.”

Emancipation Day on Aug. 1 commemorates the date in 1834 when the British Empire abolished slavery. Campbell has artwork displayed of a hummingbird resting on flowers at Shelburne Town Hall.

“My art expresses tranquility and beauty,” said Campbell. “Life is what you make of it; whatever you put in, you get. Having to view life in a positive way even though there are many challenges. It’s facing challenges with zeal. The hummingbird has an aim and goes after it.”

Emancipation Day paved the way to freeing more than 800,000 enslaved Africans and their descendants in Canada, parts of the Caribbean, Africa, and South America. Since then, Aug. 1 has been commemorated in many parts of the world, including through celebrations of freedom across Canada. The day was officially designated last year by a unanimous vote in the House of Commons.

“It’s important to reflect on our rich history,” said Campbell. “Many champions evolved out of our struggles and people fought for our freedom. Not only Black people were involved in the fight but people from other cultures took part in the fight. Therefore, it’s important to continue to fight against discrimination and prejudice.”

Dave August Ellington is another artist whose work is on display at town hall. He said the day carries a lot of weight for people today to break free from stereotypes, especially with the recent Black Lives Matter movement.

“It speaks to what a community should strive towards, building that type of tapestry of colours that’s not only on the external but the colours of our backgrounds, where we came from and what has come in our lives,” said Ellington. “These are what we can bring to the community and build it together. That’s how I speak to Black Lives Matter.”

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