Annual picnic recognizes impact Black families had in building Oakville

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Published July 21, 2023 at 10:36 am

Families and residents can gather to mark a significant day in history at the annual Emancipation Day Picnic being held at the grounds of the Oakville Museum at Erchless Estate on Aug. 5. TOWN OF OAKVILLE PHOTO

Oakville is hosting a celebration of Black history in the town and you’re invited.

The Town and Canadian Caribbean Association of Halton (CCAH) are hosting the annual Emancipation Day Picnic at the grounds of the Oakville Museum at Erchless Estate on Aug. 5, from 1 to 4 p.m. (rain date August 6).

Families and residents can gather to mark a significant day in history when slavery was abolished in Canada and throughout the British Empire.

The annual picnic recognizes Oakville’s role in the Underground Railroad as a port of entry to Canada. It dates back to 1850, when African Canadians from across the province would gather at Oakville’s George’s Square to honour their journey to freedom.

“Emancipation Day serves as a reminder of how our town participated in the Underground Railroad, as well as an opportunity to recommit annually to promoting more diversity, inclusion, and equity,” said Oakville Mayor Rob Burton.

Residents are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and a blanket and take in a performance from jazz gospel singer John Campbell. Children can take part in a host of family activities put on by entertainer Nick Gordon.

You and your family will also be able to take part in a tour of the Oakville Museum and learn about Oakville’s early Black History, explore the multimedia exhibit, The Underground Railroad: Next Stop Freedom or participate in the Oakville Public Library’s storytime.

Those in attendance will also be able to pre-order a free, hot Caribbean meal prepared by Chef Romaine Newell for the event. Some 300 meals will be prepared, so the town is reminding those who plan to attend to pre-order now.

Hotdogs, chips, and a juice box will be prepared as an alternative meal for children. Meals will be served between 1 to 3 p.m.

The CCAH will also be celebrating the opening of the Community & Harmony Garden at Queen Elizabeth Park Community and Cultural Centre, 2302 Bridge Rd., on Emancipation Day (Aug. 1) from 5 to 7 p.m.

Light refreshments will be served by Chef Romaine Newell. Registration is required to ensure food service for this free event.

“The CCAH focuses on our four pillars of education, culture, community and harmony in all that we offer,” said Andrew Tyrrell, CCAH President. “Emancipation Day is but one opportunity to recognize the impact that generations of Black families have had in building Oakville and Halton Region to what it is today.

“We embrace the celebration but will continue throughout the year to ensure we shed light on all aspects of Oakville’s history and strive for understanding and harmony within the community.”

Residents will also be able to take part in additional Emancipation Day celebrations.

The Oakville Museum and the Bronte Historical Society, in partnership with the Oakville Public Library, are inviting residents to join guided tours of Bronte Harbour or Kerr Village and explore sites related to Oakville’s Black heritage.

You can also register for the Bronte bike tour taking place next Sunday (July 30) from noon to 1:30 p.m. or the Kerr walking tour on the same day from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Registration is required for these free events.

The Oakville Museum at Erchless Estate is located at 8 Navy Street in downtown Oakville and is easily accessible by foot, bike or public transit.

For more information on the event, see here.

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