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At left, a watercolour by Captain-Lieutenant William Booth shows a Black woodcutter at Shelburne, N.S., in 1788. At right, a painting from around 1830 shows Rose Fortune, a Black Loyalist born into slavery who came to Canada when she was 10 and became a notable businesswoman in the Annapolis Valley.

Library and Archives Canada; Nova Scotia Archives and Records Management

Nova Scotia is celebrating Emancipation Day for the first time after passing legislation to observe the day earlier this year.

The day marks the anniversary of the abolishment of slavery across the British Empire on Aug. 1, 1834, a year after the Slavery Abolition Act was passed by the British Parliament.

The Act freed about 800,000 enslaved people of African descent throughout the British colonies, including those in Upper and Lower Canada.

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Deputy Culture Minister Kesa Munroe-Anderson says the day is a time for learning and reflection for not just people of African descent, but all Nova Scotians.

In-person and virtual ceremonies and events are planned for Emancipation Day across the province.

In March, the federal government unanimously passed a vote to designate today as Emancipation Day.

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