Emancipation Day celebrations begin today in St. Catharines

CKTB - NEWS - EmancipationDaySTC

Emancipation Day celebrations are returning to St. Catharines.

Special events will be held between today and August 1st, celebrating the strength and resilience of the Black community with panels, workshops, virtual performances, and a vendor fair.

Organizer Erika Smith fondly remembers celebrations when she was younger, and says she and some other people were recently inspired to revive the traditions.

"Last year the pandemic happened and there was the Black Lives Matter movement going on and we really just thought there's a need for this resurgence, for us to put some energy into planning this because we're now becoming the older people in the community that need to keep these traditions alive and strong."

The free events will be streamed on the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre, City of St. Catharines, TD Niagara Jazz Festival, Matter of Black, and BlackOwned905 social media pages.

This is the second year virtual Emancipation Day celebrations have been held in St. Catharines after more than 12,500 community members joined in last year.

The festivities kick off with a physically distanced flag raising ceremony at St. Catharines city hall this morning.

Some events, such as A July 31st workshop on Engaging in Active Anti-Oppressive Anti-Racism Practices, require pre-registration.

Visit the EmancipationDaySTC Facebook page and the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre website for a full list of events and more information.

Traditionally, a large Emancipation Day Picnic was held in Lakeside Park from 1924 until the early 1970s, drawing hundreds of people from Canada and the US.

Click here to listen to Smith's full interview with Tim Denis.