Uncle Tom's Cabin Historic Site celebrates Emancipation Day



    DRESDEN, ON, Aug. 4 /CNW/ - Today, Uncle Tom's Cabin Historic Site held
its annual Emancipation Day celebration, hosted by The Honourable Lincoln M.
Alexander, Chairman of the Ontario Heritage Trust.
    "I'm extremely proud to be at Uncle Tom's Cabin today for Emancipation
Day," said Mr. Alexander. "This is a time to reflect on the struggles and
sacrifices of blacks during the time of slavery and to celebrate the freedom
they worked so hard to attain - the freedom we now enjoy."
    Emancipation Day celebrates the end of slavery in the British Empire.
This year's event at Uncle Tom's Cabin included the unveiling of new
interpretive displays, which were developed with funding support from the
Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration to commemorate the 200th anniversary
of the abolition of the slave trade.
    "Emancipation Day brings Ontarians together in remembrance of the fight
against slavery," said Premier Dalton McGuinty. "It's an opportunity to learn
about a significant period in the province's history and to celebrate the
triumph of the human spirit."
    As part of today's Emancipation Day festivities, visitors at Uncle Tom's
Cabin enjoyed musical, dance and dramatic performances and storytelling for
children. Mr. Alexander also signed copies of his best-selling book, "Go to
School, You're a Little Black Boy": The Honourable Lincoln M. Alexander: A
Memoir.
    "This is an important commemoration of Ontario's heritage," said Caroline
Di Cocco, Minister of Culture. "Emancipation Day gives people a chance to
share the stories that are part of our rich and diverse history, and to raise
awareness about how these experiences have contributed to our quality of
life."
    Uncle Tom's Cabin comprises the former home of Reverend Josiah Henson and
other period buildings; the world-class exhibit, I'll Use My Freedom Well; and
an interpretive centre housing 19th century artifacts and rare books on North
American black history. Reverend Henson, a fugitive slave who found freedom in
Ontario, arrived in 1830 via the Underground Railroad and established the Dawn
Settlement, a place where other former slaves learned to be self-sufficient,
successful community members. His dramatic experiences were the reference for
the title character in Harriet Beecher Stowe's renowned novel, Uncle Tom's
Cabin.
    "Slavery in Ontario is a little known part of our history and its impact
resonates in our province today," said Maria Van Bommel, MPP for
Lambton-Kent-Middlesex. "That's why it's important that we learn from our
history - especially in our local community."
    Uncle Tom's Cabin Historic Site is owned and operated by the Ontario
Heritage Trust - the province's lead heritage agency - dedicated to
identifying, preserving, protecting and promoting Ontario's built, cultural
and natural heritage for the benefit of present and future generations.

    To learn more about the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade,
visit www.ontario.ca/abolition. For information on the Ontario Heritage Trust,
visit www.heritagetrust.on.ca.

    
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For further information:

For further information: Catrina Colme, Marketing and Communications
Coordinator, Ontario Heritage Trust, Telephone: (416) 325-5074, E-mail:
catrina.colme@heritagetrust.on.ca


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