On August 3, CUPE Ontario proudly commemorates Emancipation Day, which marks the passing of the Slavery Abolition Act. The Act ended slavery across the British Empire over 180 years ago, on August 1, 1834.

Emancipation Day coincides with Simcoe Day, named for Lt.Gov. John Graves Simcoe, who passed an Act Against Slavery in 1793, ultimately leading to the end of slavery in Upper Canada (now Ontario).

In Toronto, members of CUPE Ontario will celebrate by joining the Carnival Grand Parade which takes place on Ontario’s Emancipation Day long weekend. The annual event, which attracts more than one million people, is the largest cultural festival in North America and showcases the rich history and diversity of Caribbean culture.

Carnival is not only a celebration of Caribbean culture, it also symbolizes the revolt of the Caribbean people against oppression, both in history and in present day. The strong progressive roots of this festival match the strong values of CUPE Ontario, making the event a perfect fit for our members to participate in.

This year, CUPE Ontario teamed up with Carnival mas band Toronto Revellers for a spectacular entry that will involve hundreds of participants flaunting vibrant costumes.

The parade is also an opportunity to highlight CUPE Ontario’s fight against austerity in the continuing struggle for racial equality. Privatization of public assets, like Hydro One, and cuts to public services, like hospitals and schools, are result in growing inequality for racialized workers and communities. When public assets are placed in private hands, profit becomes the priority, not equality.

Joining the annual Caribbean Carnival parade is just one way CUPE Ontario raises awareness of issues experienced by racialized workers. Visit cupe.on.ca for more information about Carnival and other CUPE Ontario equality campaigns.