Ottawa/Queen's Park



emancipationToday, Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MPP Bill Walker delivered the following Statement in the Legislature in recognition of Black History Month.

"Speaker, I rise today to recognize February as Black History Month.

Black History Month is a special occasion for all of us to show our appreciation for the many achievements of people with African heritage in Ontario.

As you know, my riding of Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound commemorates black history with Emancipation Day, which we celebrate every August 1st in Owen Sound and have done so since 1862, making it the longest-running event on this continent.

Owen Sound was the northernmost refuge for the slaves fleeing from the southern states. The Village of Sydenham was the last terminal of the Railroad and many escaped slaves settled here, finding work and raising families.

Emancipation Festival organizer Blaine Courtney and the festival's heritage interpretation co-ordinator and Grey Roots Manager Petal Furness are busy working on the 2016 Festival in an effort to continue to commemorate the abolition of slavery and to celebrate those individuals and groups who made the Underground Railroad journey possible.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of joining my colleague and Wellington-Halton Hills MPP Ted Arnott to watch the proclamation of the Black History Month Act at Queen's Park.

As you know, the Wellington-Halton Hills member was instrumental in helping to pass a bill to recognize January 21st as Lincoln Alexander Day in Ontario in honour of Alexander who was first elected to the House of Commons as a Progressive Conservative in 1968, becoming Canada's first black member of Parliament in Ottawa and Canada's first black federal cabinet minister in 1979.

And just earlier this month, our party's Leader and my caucus colleagues hosted a very successful reception here at Queen's Park to kick off our Black History Month recognition.

I would encourage all members and their families to visit Owen Sound on Emancipation Day, to visit our Black History Cairn, built 10 years ago after Councillor Peter Lemon and Bonita Johnson de Matteis, a local artist, author and descendent of an escaped slave, partnered up with several organizations to help commemorate early black settlers, and to view our award-winning exhibit "From Slavery to Freedom - African-Canadians in Grey County" at Grey Roots to learn about our trailblazers and local heroes whose stories have educated and inspired several generations of Owen Sounders."

source: Bill Walker, MPP Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound


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