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Juneteenth marks a milestone in the ongoing fight for freedom and equality. The roots of this commemorative day trace back to June 19, 1865, when the ‘last enslaved individuals’ in the USA learned about the abolition of slavery. Juneteenth is a day for embracing and celebrating Amefrican culture. While the day radiated from the USA, over time, it has gained historical significance across the world.

The 519 Black Collective acknowledges Juneteenth as a reminder that African people were enslaved in Canada for over 200 years, despite persistent narratives that this was strictly a historic stain upon the neighboring United States. Stories of slavery in Canada need to be acknowledged as they inform the ongoing work and struggles to dismantle anti-Black racism that continues to this day.

To date, descendants of enslaved Africans and Black people continue to experience unfair targeting and treatment by unethical justice systems. This carceral reality has direct evolutionary ties to histories of enslavement. We face systemic and structural barriers to professional advancement despite, in some cases, carrying greater qualifications than our non-Black counterparts. We continue to be disproportionately affected by inequitable distributions of basic resources including health, housing, and food security to enjoy a decent quality of life.

To our Black siblings, comrades– we know the struggles you navigate each day. We also know, observe, live, and breathe the force of unity and love that you carry. A force that powers our collective resistance to the unjust barriers that threaten our truest liberation both now and for future generations.

Today and all days, we celebrate our Amefrican culture, our ancestors, our resistance, and our joy. We encourage everyone to continue to ignite awareness, have difficult and important conversations, promote truthful education of our histories, and continue to support, fund, attend and value spaces for Black 2SLGBTQ+ communities the globe wide.

Happy Juneteenth!

*Amefrican is a term tailored by afro-Brazilian intellectual Lélia Gonzales in 1988 who believed the term American didn’t encompass the experience of being born or brought to the Americas as Black person. The term Amefrican means the intersection of our Black identity with Indigenous and European culture.

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