OASW Acknowledges Canada’s History of Slavery & Celebrates Emancipation Day 

August 1st is Emancipation Day, a day on which we recognize the abolition of slavery in Canada and acknowledge the significant and outstanding historical and current contributions of Black Canadians. On Emancipation Day, OASW joins in the celebration of the incredible strength of Black Canadians. We also reflect upon our collective history of enslavement and our responsibility to eliminate anti-Black racism at the individual and institutional levels.

The national recognition of Emancipation Day is a critical opportunity to increase awareness of Canada’s complicity in slavery, racial segregation, and marginalization that has had devastating impacts on multiple generations of people of African descent. It also calls upon us to understand slavery as part of Canada’s project of nation building and colonialism. 

Though slavery was abolished in Canada on August 1, 1834, the violent oppression of Black Canadians has continued across systems such as education, health, child welfare and criminal justice. Social workers are uniquely positioned within these settings to challenge practices grounded in white supremacy that continue to harm and disproportionately impact Black children, youth, adults, and families. OASW calls upon all social workers to continually engage in critically reflective practice on our profession’s role in upholding oppressive practices and to enact our collective responsibility to dismantle anti-Black racism.

OASW stands in solidarity with Black Canadians and their communities. We honour the critical contributions of our colleagues; those who actively confront and resist racism, whose research and advocacy increase awareness and education about the experiences of Black Canadians and contribute to the development of organizations and institutions that advance equity within our society. 

As an Association, we understand that the legacy of slavery lingers in our social and economic systems. We continue our journey to integrate equity as a foundational component of our work to challenge anti-Black racism, and to recognize Black leadership and excellence. 

Celebrate, Engage, and Learn this Emancipation Day!

About OASW
OASW is the voice of social work in Ontario. It is a voluntary, bilingual, non-profit association representing approximately 7250+ social workers. All members have a university degree in social work at the bachelor, master or doctoral level. OASW works to actively speak on behalf of social workers on issues of interest to the profession and advocates for the improvement of social policies and programs directly affecting social work practice and client groups served.