Emancipation Day Celebration
Emancipation Day celebrations are returning to Brantford’s Mohawk Park after over 100 years. The event is set to occur at the upper pavilions of the park on Sun. July 30.
Emancipation Day celebrations are returning to Brantford’s Mohawk Park after over 100 years. The event is set to occur at the upper pavilions of the park on Sun. July 30. The event will consist of a free community barbeque, a soccer tournament concisting of local teams for the newly minted Emancipation Cup, a historical information booth, as well as a live DJ and activities for children. The event begins at 11am with the kickoff of the first soccer match, and ends at 6pm.
The event was the brainchild of Amanda Mersereau, co-founder and director of the Brantford-based organization Unite Against Hate! The organizing committee also consists of local community leaders Andre Brown, Brendon Ulysse, Chris George and Angel Panag.
In 2021, the Canadian House of Commons unanimously declared Aug. 1 as Emancipation Day. This marks the day that slavery was abolished across the British Empire. However, the event has long been celebrated around Canada, including in Brantford.
The earliest recorded account of the celebration in the area reported that a crowd gathered for a picnic on Aug. 1, 1856, at a grove on the present day site of the Woodland Cultural Centre on the Six Nations Reserve. At some point, the event moved from Six Nations to Mohawk Park in Brantford. The 1903 celebration drew over a thousand guests from Toronto, Hamilton, Woodstock and Guelph, Brantford and the surrounding area to Mohawk Park. Celebrations included baseball matches, boating on the lake, picnicking, and a dance at the park’s pavilion. The last recorded celebration in Brantford occurred in 1912. In spite of social inequities, over 700 residents of African, European and Indigenous backgrounds came together in Brantford to celebrate the idea of freedom.
(Sunday) 11:00 AM - 6:00 PM