Government of Canada commemorates the historic significance of the Abolition Movement in British North America



    CHATHAM, ON, May 16 /CNW Telbec/ - On behalf of the Honourable Jim
Prentice, Canada's Environment Minister and Minister responsible for Parks
Canada, Mr. David Van Kesteren, Member of Parliament for Chatham-Kent-Essex,
today unveiled a Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada plaque
commemorating the Abolition Movement in British North America. A ceremony
marking the importance of the Movement and its impact on the history of Canada
was held today at the First Baptist Church in Chatham.
    "The commemoration of the Abolition Movement is part of the ongoing
program of recognition of the Underground Railroad in Canada, and is one of
the great human rights fights of the 19th century", declared Mr. Van Kesteren.
"Today's commemoration of the Abolition Movement by Canada's Government will
help to ensure that this historic event of great significance will be
remembered and appreciated by generations to come."
    In 2005, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada recommended the
Abolition Movement be designated as a national historic event because of its
role in early attempts to abolish slavery within the colonies. The Board also
noted that the Abolition Movement encompasses the arrival of thousands of
American Black refugees in Upper Canada and the Maritimes between 1783 and
1860 and includes activities such as the formation of the Anti-Slavery Society
of Canada and the John Brown Convention in the 1850s. Furthermore, the Board
noted that it was a defining episode in the Black experience in Canada. The
Board concluded that the Abolition Movement helped to shape the values of
British North America as a whole, encouraging respect for individual rights
and the emergence of a sense of identity predicated on the idea of Canada as a
place of freedom and opportunity.
    "Today's commemoration of the Abolition Movement is a very fine example
of what Canada's Government is doing to keep our historical heritage alive,"
said Minister Prentice. "Values such as freedom and respect for individual
rights resonate with this defining episode in the Canadian experience. It is a
keystone in the establishment of our country as a place of freedom and
opportunity."
    Created in 1919, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada advises
the Minister of the Environment regarding the national historic significance
of places, people and events that have marked Canada's history. The placement
of a commemorative plaque represents an official recognition of historic
value. It is one means of informing the public about the richness of our
cultural heritage, which must be preserved for present and future generations.

    (Backgrounder available on the Internet at www.pc.gc.ca under Media
Room.)




For further information:

For further information: Ron Dale, Parks Canada, (905) 468-6600; Michèle
Monette, Media Relations Officer, Parks Canada, (819) 994-3023


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