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El Jones’s powerful poem sheds light on slavery in N.S. and the struggle for freedom

On the shores of Halifax harbour, poet and educator El Jones performed a poem she wrote for Emancipation Day, which will be marked for the first time in Nova Scotia and across the country on Sunday.

In (Still Not) Freedom: An Emancipation Day Poem, she traces the brutal history of slavery in the province and the resistance and struggle for freedom that continues today.

The House of Commons voted unanimously earlier this year to designate Aug. 1 as Emancipation Day across Canada. Less than a month later, Nova Scotia followed suit.

It recognizes the date 187 years ago when about 800,000 people of African descent were freed from enslavement throughout the British colonies. But the Slavery Abolition Act that was enacted in 1834 didn’t eradicate slavery and racism in this country.

“Just because the official legal arrangement of slavery ended, Black people did not get liberation,” Jones told CBC Radio’s Mainstreet.

Her performance is part of a special hour-long program, Slavery, Resistance & Emancipation, which airs Friday on Mainstreet from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. AT.

FreeUp! Emancipation Day 2021 is a youth-led celebration of spoken word, dance, theatre and music, as we gather together to celebrate freedom. Join CBC Arts on Aug. 1 at 1 p.m. ET on CBC Gem and YouTube.

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

el joness powerful poem sheds light on slavery in n s and the struggle for freedom


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