TD Bank is bringing employees together to mark Emancipation Day, the country’s first national holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the British Empire.

This spring, the federal government voted unanimously to officially recognize August 1 as a day to reflect on when the Slavery Abolition Act came into effect across the British Empire on Aug. 1, 1834, freeing more than 800,000 enslaved Africans and their descendants in parts of the Caribbean, Africa, South America and Canada, according to the Government of Canada.

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TD’s Black Employee Network resource group hosted a virtual Emancipation Day town hall on July 28 to spark discussion and honour the day being recognized nationally across the country this weekend. The internal event featured noted historian and president of the Ontario Black History Society, Natasha Henry, as the keynote speaker and was followed by a question-and-answer session.

“The national commemoration of Emancipation Day in Canada this year officially recognizes enslaved Black people as part of Canada’s history,” said TD’s Black Employee Network co-chairs, Naki Osutei,  associate vice-president of social impact at TD in Canada and Peter Robinson, associate vice-president of wealth risk management at the bank in Canada, in an emailed statement to Benefits Canada.

“Too often, the dark chapters of Canada’s history — and more specifically, Black History — are overlooked. TD is marking this historic occasion with an Emancipation Day town hall . . . for colleagues across the North American footprint of the bank. BEN has a long history of creating forums for [employees] at TD to engage in active dialogue on Blackness and what it means in the context of society today.”

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