‘It’s about education’: Pan-African flag raised outside Kitchener City Hall in historic first

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'It's about education'- Pan-African flag raised outside Kitchener City Hall in historic first 1

August 23 is the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition

The tri-colour Pan-African flag is pictured alongside the Canadian flag and the City of Kitchener flag outside Kitchener City Hall Monday. (Paula Duhatschek/CBC)

The Pan-African flag was raised for what’s believed to be the first time outside Kitchener City Hall Monday, in a short ceremony to mark the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition.

“It’s important because a lot of this stuff has been pushed under the rug, and it’s not being taught in schools,” said Fitzroy Vanderpool, Emancipation Month ambassador for the city.

“It’s great to know history, and just to have it brought back and refreshed in the minds of many.”

According to the United Nations, August 23 marks the anniversary of a 1791 uprising on the island of Saint Domingue, now known as Haiti and the Dominican Republic, which played an important role in the eventual abolition of the transatlantic slave trade.

Emancipation Month Ambassador Fitzroy Vanderpool hopes the flag-raising will become an annual event. (Paula Duhatschek/CBC)

August 1 was also recognized this year for the first time in Canada as Emancipation Day, which marks the date in 1834 when slavery was abolished in the British colonies, including Canada. Some Canadian cities, including Toronto and Burlington, have recognized all of August as Emancipation Month.

“We want … to challenge everyone to make a choice that not only are you personally not going to allow racism to exist in your own life, but that you address it head on in the lives of those that you love, because this is the time to do it,” said Dewitt Lee III, co-founder of Emancipation Month Canada.

Emancipation Month co-founder Dewitt Lee III (right) is pictured giving remarks during a short ceremony Monday. (Paula Duhatschek/CBC)

Lee and Vanderpool organized Monday’s event with help from Ward 9 Coun. Debbie Chapman.

During her remarks, Chapman urged people to remember that slavery existed in Canada and wasn’t simply something that happened south of the border.

Chapman said she hopes the flag will remind people of that history, and of the injustices that persist today.

“Raising a flag doesn’t affect those changes that need to happen, but it certainly reminds us that we have to be cognizant of the need for change and find ways to bring policies forward and actions that will make for a more just society,” she said.

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