By: Ewa Chwojko-Srawley
For over a century, Black communities in Canada have celebrated Emancipation Day, but it was not until 2021 that the day received official recognition.
In that significant year, Georgina also held its celebration, thanks to the efforts of Kendra Shae-Marie Mullings, a member of the Georgina Equity & Diversity Advisory Committee and a founder of the Georgina Black Excellence Society.
The event marked the first step in a journey with the commitment to raise the Pan-African flag annually.
The third annual Pan-African Flag Festival, held on August 1 at the Civic Centre and The ROC Chalet, had “BELIEVE” as its theme.
“I decided to choose this theme because believing is the next step to dismantling any marginalization of people – be it Black, Indigenous, or any disadvantaged population. Believe in our experience, ask each other, listen to each other, and believe each other,” Mullings said in her opening remarks.
Wayne Smile, a renowned Georgina artist who had the honour of raising the Pan-African Flag, carried on with the theme, “Belief is the first invitation towards knowing.”
Addressing the audience, he continued, “Celebration of Emancipation Day in Georgina is special because it acknowledges the struggles and successes of people of my ethnic background and the gradual embracing of cultural differences that were once rejected. This occasion is to be applauded along with everyone involved in organizing the event.”
Smile is known for artworks infused with profound spiritual meanings, valuable teachings, and impactful messages. At this festival, he introduced his newest sculpture, ‘ Culture Dance,’ which embodies the spirit of cultural diversity and inclusivity.
While the Pan-African Flag was being raised, Mulling said, “I am incredibly proud of our community. Witnessing how far we have come, even amidst challenging conversations, fills me with great pride. It warms my heart to see the mayor and council members coming together to celebrate Black culture, providing a powerful example for my children and the youth of our community. I want to send a strong message to our young generation: the similarities that unite us are far more significant than the differences that may set us apart.”
MP Scot Davidson added, “I am encouraged by our community and the meaningful input of African Canadians here as a reminder of what we can achieve together.”
Mayor Margaret Quirk commented, “This event is both a celebration and a profoundly thought-provoking experience, inspiring us to persevere through the challenges we face as a community dealing with diversity and inclusion.”
June Scandiffio, who attended the Pan African Flag Raising Festival for the second time, said, “Kendra did a marvellous job gathering so many people from Georgina to celebrate the diversity of our community while highlighting the gifts of our black citizens. This was exemplified when Wayne Smile, a local sculptor and philosopher, unveiled the model of what we hope will be a community life-sized sculpture titled “Culture Dance.”
What better unites people than good food and music? Mayor Quirk confessed that she had suggested including food in the festival, which everyone wholeheartedly appreciated!
The cuisine from Trinidad was an absolute hit, just like the lively Pan-African music. The attendees couldn’t resist staying late into the evening, thoroughly enjoying the festive atmosphere.
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