USS Conference Organizers Recognize Emancipation Day

For immediate release
August 1, 2023

HALIFAX, N.S. – The organizing committee of the 2023 Universities Studying Slavery (USS) Conference would like to acknowledge Emancipation Day. Today, August 1st marks the actual day in 1834 that the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 came into effect across the British Empire. For the most part, the awareness of Slavery in Canada and Nova Scotia in particular was something that was not a well known part of our history. Emancipation Day is a recognition of this tragic past.

The transatlantic slave trade resulted in the deaths of millions of African people and their descendants. Many lost their lives as a result of this harsh treatment and through the journey across the Atlantic when they were transported as property or meaningless cargo. It is estimated that over two million African people around the world died during slave trade journeys.

Once landed in North America, enslaved Africans and their descendants were forced to work in fields, complete manual labour and domestic work in homes. They were forced to change their names, abandon their faiths, reject their cultures, and stop speaking their native tongues; truly their identity and heritage was erased. The enslaved people were exposed to brutal forms of torture and abuse, all enforced by the law of the day. Emancipation Day is recognition of this past hurt that decades ago enslaved African Nova Scotians and countless other people of African descent in ways unimaginable.

Join us this fall as we host the 2023 Universities Studying Slavery (USS) Conference. This groundbreaking event will feature keynotes by seven leaders from the spheres of politics, the arts and academia—each an internationally renowned voice on slavery and reparations. Taking place in Halifax, N.S., from Oct. 18–21, the conference will be hosted by Dalhousie University and the University of King’s College, working together and in partnership with the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia. As the first gathering of the USS to be held outside the United States, the conference will explore the theme ‘Slavery, Reparations and Education: African Nova Scotia, Canada and Beyond.’ This extensive conference will explore in detail the effects of slavery and the fight for emancipation.

Keynote Speakers:

Sir Hilary Beckles

Dr. George Elliott Clarke

H.E. David Comissiong

Dr. Afua Cooper

Dr. Sylvia D. Hamilton

H.E. John Mahama

Dr. Harvey Amani Whitfield


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