Emancipation Day is a day to pause, reflect and celebrate those that paved a way to freedom and liberation for so many enslaved people.

On March 24, 2021, Members of Parliament voted unanimously to officially recognize August 1 as Emancipation Day in Canada. August 1 is significant because it marks the day in 1834 when the Slavery Abolition Act came into effect, after being passed by the British Parliament. The Act helped free over 800,000 people of African descent who were enslaved around the world.

As we celebrate and acknowledge this day, it is important to recognize that the history of slavery has impacted every country and continues to affect us all.  And we must not ignore the fact that Canada was not immune to or exempt from the widespread practice of slavery.

As we celebrate the sense of freedom and liberation this day brings, CUPE encourages you to do your part in the ongoing fight to dismantle and get rid of anti-Black racism, which still exists to this day.

What CUPE locals and members can do:



  • Bargain to eliminate systemic racism and workplace inequities.
  • Bargain to include Emancipation Day as a day off with pay.


  • Read CUPE’s Anti-Racism Strategy in its entirety and take the actions outlined in the 10 goals.
  • Acknowledge that Black enslavement is part of Canada’s history.
  • For members of Black communities, be gentle with yourselves. Take time to rest and free yourselves from mental slavery.
  • Check in with Black CUPE members and offer support.
  • Continue to fight against anti-Black racism and all other forms of racism.
  • Order CUPE’s Time to end racism button and sticker for yourself and for members of your local.
  • Participate in Emancipation Day events and activities in your region.