DND Honours Emancipation Day in Halifax
On August 1, 2023, the Department of National Defence (DND) and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) hosted an extraordinary event in Halifax celebrating Emancipation Day with reverence and enthusiasm. The commemoration demonstrated DND’s continuous efforts to promote diversity and inclusion, and increase awareness of our shared history.
Led by Commodore Jacques Olivier, Defence Team Champion for Visible Minorities, with Major Ryan Carter as the Master of Ceremonies, the event was livestreamed on MS Teams in English and French to an audience of close to 4,000 Defence Team members. It featured inspiring speakers and cultural performances that celebrated the history and contributions of Black and Indigenous communities in Canada.
Emancipation Day holds profound significance for Africans and people of African descent. It commemorates the abolition of slavery across the British Empire on August 1, 1834, and represents a powerful symbol of freedom and resilience. For many, this day serves as a poignant reminder of the historical struggles endured by the Black communities and the strong spirit of those who fought tirelessly for their emancipation. They paved the way for future generations to thrive.
During the event, participants spoke passionately from the heart, sharing personal experiences and stories that further highlighted the impact of Emancipation Day on each of them. The emotions in the room were unmistakable, as attendees connected on a profound level, understanding the weight of this momentous occasion. Together, they experienced a powerful moment of reflection, celebration and empowerment.
The Defence Team Black Employees Network (DTBEN) co-chairs, Faduno Ali and Major Christopher Stobbs were the visionaries behind the event. Since 2020, DTBEN has made huge strides in promoting the wellbeing and prosperity of Black civilian and military members. This event helped further DTBEN’s efforts to bring Black Defence Team members together to share their experiences, and help create meaningful actions that will break down the barriers in the workplace that many Black employees still face.
The Chief Professional Conduct and Culture team and CFB Halifax, in collaboration with Public Services and Procurement Canada, provided the assistance and support needed to bring this significant day to life. The hard work and passion of everyone involved ensured that the event left a lasting impact on all who attended.
Since the event took place in Halifax, a city with a rich history of people of African descent, the celebration of Emancipation Day held even greater significance. The city’s cultural heritage, art, and the contributions of its African-descendant communities were showcased, reinforcing the importance of preserving and cherishing diverse traditions.
Commodore Olivier ended the event with poignant closing remarks:
“Together, as a united Defence Team, we will continue building a workforce that reflects the beautiful and diverse fabric of Canadian society, where diversity of thought and perspectives ignites creativity, kindles innovation, and nurtures trust, rendering us ever more effective in our operational endeavours.”
Event organizers welcome your feedback. If you are a CAF member or DND employee who attended in person or watched the livestream, please provide your thoughts. An online feedback form (accessible on DWAN only) will remain open until August 31, 2023.