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On June 17, U.S. President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law, turning June 19 into a federal holiday. The date is significant to African Americans, as June 19, 1865, marks the day the last enslaved Black folks, located in Galveston, Texas, were made aware that they were free as per President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation from 1863. In Canada a few months earlier, MPs in the House of Commons voted to recognize Aug. 1 as Emancipation Day across the nation, in acknowledgement of Aug. 1, 1834, the day the British Empire officially abolished slavery. While these two federal declarations may seem very similar, the reality is that they are actually quite different. Juneteenth is not Emancipation Day, and Emancipation Day is not Juneteenth. Not only does the Black Canadian community not have a Juneteenth celebration, Black Canadians don’t need one.

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