Senator wants August 1 to be declared National Emancipation Day across Canada

Waiting to board the Freedom train

It all happened underground late at night while most of Toronto slept. Looking out over a sea of Caribbean Canadian faces at the start of the annual Freedom Ride, Senator Dr. Wanda Thomas Bernard  shouted:“You should see the beautiful view from here!”

The Halifax senator, one of  the few Afro-Canadians in the Upper Chamber, was a keynote speaker at the recent sixth annual Emancipation Day Underground Freedom Train ride. She told the large audience that she is going to work to make August 1 a federally proclaimed national day  – Emancipation Day.

Senator Bernard shared the microphone with storyteller and retired librarian Rita Cox, the honorary conductor of the 2018 Freedom Train. They stood on the steps of the Rotunda inside the TTC Union Station, surrounded by people waiting to join them on a special subway train ride to mark the August 1,1834 proclamation abolishing slavery in the British Empire and to honour the people who escaped to Canada on the Underground Railroad.

The TTC provided a private subway train that took 1,200 passengers from Union Station to the Sheppard Station  where  at midnight when they  arrived there was a ceremony to mark the dawn of August 1.