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Emancipation Day Celebrations

Emancipation Day, celebrated on August 1st, commemorates the enactment of the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 across the British Empire. For this event, Black Kingstonians collaborated with the City to explore ideas for recognizing and celebrating Emancipation Day. 

This group has curated a series of activities including a flag-raising ceremony, art exhibitions, film screenings, live music and cultural events to raise awareness and educate the community on the historical significance of Emancipation Day. 

When and where?

Emancipation day celebrations will take place between August 1st - 3rd at various locations around Kingston. 

Thursday August 1st:

Emancipation Day flag-raising ceremony at Confederation Park - staring at 12 p.m. (secondary location in Memorial Hall, City Hall, in case of rain) 

The flag-raising ceremony will include reflections in both French and English acknowledging the enduring impact of enslavement and its connections to anti-Black racism while highlighting the government’s commitment to eradicating anti-Black racism and supporting Black-focused initiatives. 

We have invited many community members to join us on this day including Mayor Paterson, members of Parliament, City Council members and community members.

Film series and discussion at The Screening Room - starting at 6 p.m.

  • Enjoy a featured short film, Joy’s Garden and two short documentaries by Open Restitution.
  • Join Film makers Ngwatilo Mawiyoo and Chao Taiyana Maina in thought-provoking conversations on the importance of heritage, the impact of loss and the power of reclamation.

This is a free event aimed for ages 16+ and is hosted by the Department of Black Studies at Queen’s University and The Cinema Society of Kingston. 

Register online to guarantee your seat. 

City Hall Illumination

In recognition of the date, City Hall will be illuminated in Red, Gold and Green – the colours of the Pan African Flag.

Friday August 2nd:

Emancipation Day Reception at Pedal Works - starting at 6 p.m.

The Emancipation Day Reception commemorates the historic day of emancipation and recognizes the contributions of local Black-owned businesses and community members. 

The venue, Pedal Works Cafe & Studios, is a Black-owned business known for contributing to the cultural and social fabric of our community. In this event enjoy:

  • Showcase of local Black-owned businesses - Find products and services from local Black-owned businesses.

  • Volunteer appreciation - A special segment dedicated to recognizing the volunteers who have contributed their time and effort to organize the Emancipation Celebration 2024.

This event is open to anyone interested in celebrating Emancipation Day and supporting the local Black community. 

Saturday August 3rd:

Black Block Party at Confederation Park - from 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.

  • Black-owned business and food vendor market including - Prosfata Inc, Classy Hair Nails, Queer Collage Collective, Ella’s Cuisine, BmDodo Strategic Design, The Candid Creative Co, Children’s book author Lemoy J. Whilby, Dansani Dance Company, Pedal Works Café & Studios, Skeleton Park Creations, Cher-Mere, CB Butterlicious, Chelle Boo Shaa, OMGosh BBQ, Mo’s Dainty Bites and JERKEbago, Bay Eats
  • 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Confederation Park - Hair tutorials by Destiny

Main stage at Confederation Park

  • Live music from local Black artists:
    • Logan Brown
    • Kyra Daniels
    • Danni Hope Edwards
    • Keaton
    • Ryan Lewis and the band
  • 2 - 3 p.m. - Dance workshops with Dansani Dance Studio

Kids activities at the Springer Market Square amphitheatre

  • 2:30 - 3:30 p.m. - Ruthy’s Reading Room. Story time and activities.
  • 3:45 – 4 p.m. - Kids dance workshop with Dansani Dance Studio

Agnes Art crochet circle with art educator Emebet Belete. Materials included. 

Emebet Belete is an artist and educator who was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. A graduate of the Addis Ababa Fine Arts School and Queen’s University, her artistic practice reflects her cross-cultural observations living in Ethiopia, Canada and Asia. Her work ranges from oil and acrylic to collage and mixed media and can be seen at her website.

Her work has been acquired by the National Museum of Ethiopia, the Ethiopian National Institute of Culture, TEDA Archives (Tianjin, China) and private collections around the world. Belete is a grant recipient of the Ontario Arts Council (OAC), Canada Council for the Arts (CCA) and the City of Belleville, for art creation as well as projects that involve teaching and encouraging students in schools and the community.

Accessibility Information

  • Flag-raising ceremony will be held in English and French with ASL interpretation. 
  • Confederation Park and Springer Market Square are both fully accessible spaces.
  • City Hall and at the Visitors Information Centre offer accessible restrooms.
  • Use the ramp on the Brock St. side of City Hall for accessible entry to the amphitheatre through City Hall.

The City of Kingston acknowledges that we are on the traditional homeland of the Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee and the Huron-Wendat, and thanks these nations for their care and stewardship over this shared land.

Today, the City is committed to working with Indigenous peoples and all residents to pursue a united path of reconciliation.

Learn more about the City's reconciliation initiatives.

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