NOTE: The template letter below is an expression of what its author and human rights lawyer, Anthony N, Morgan, refers to as Black-focused creative writing, art and expression that uses law and legal tools to re-imagine and inspire bold futures of Black freedom and justice — in short: Afrofujurism.
As such, this template letter does not in any way constitute legal advice and is not to be understood by anyone as such. This letter is not a professional or legal letter to be actually relied on by any employee and is not intended to be drafted for completion and submission to any employer in Canada or any other jurisdiction for formal consideration.
It is simply a small, creative, but concrete expression of what could and should (soon) be a reality for Black people pursuing Black freedom and justice for all people of African descent.
For similar Afrofujuristic writings from Anthony N. Morgan, see The Universal Charter on Media Representations of Black Peoples. This Charter was recently published in the book, Black Like We: Troubleshooting the Black Youth Experience, by Fiona Clarke.
Dear [NAME OF YOUR REPORTING MANAGER]:
Re: Requesting A Day Off for Emancipation Day (August 1, 2019)
As a Black person of proud African heritage who is an employee at [NAME OF YOUR EMPLOYER], I would like to request a day off on August 1, 2019.
I would like this day off in honour and recognition of Emancipation Day. Emancipation Day is a commemorative celebration of the abolition of the enslavement of Africans in what is now Canada, the Caribbean, Britain and South Africa. To honour Emancipation Day, individuals and communities of African Descent across Canada use this day to personally reflect on, and/or communally gather at memorial and celebratory events. Joining with other African descendants, I would like to use this day to remember, honour and give thanks for my African Ancestors who endured slavery with enough resolve, resilience and resistance to survive birthing descendants, and preventing the global annihilation of people of African descent through the genocide of the Translatlantic Slave Trade and slavery.
The first Emancipation Day celebration took place on August 1, 1834. On this day, the British Parliament’s Slavery Abolition Act, 1833, took effect. This Act freed approximately 1 million enslaved Africans, ending Canada’s two centuries of legally practicing, protecting and promoting the enslavement of people of African descent. As you may know, Canada’s first known enslaved African was named Olivier Le Jeune, who first appeared in Canadian historical records in 1628. Given that the aforementioned Abolition Act came into force in 1834, Canada’s participation in slavery and the TransAtlantic Slave Trade lasted for 206 years.
According to the United Nations, over the course of 400 years, more than 15 million Africans had their lives, liberty and humanity stunted and stolen through slavery and the TransAtlantic Slave Trade, which is one of modern history’s most globally catastrophic crimes against humanity.
Since at least the 19th century, Black leaders and communities across the world have been organizing, agitating, pleading for and/or demanding reparations as compensation for centuries of their Ancestors’ stolen unfree labour. It was this stolen labour of Africans that forcibly served as the economic engine of the Industrial Revolution, led to the establishment of both, global capitalism, and the contemporary dominance of Western Countries.
Despite these unceasing efforts, to present, no public or private organization in Canada has ever officially recognized, apologized for, or provided reparations to African descendants for its role as a participant and/or beneficiary of slavery, the TransAtlantic Slave Trade and colonization of people of African descent and their continental African lands.
As part of our organization’s commitment to protecting and promoting equity, diversity, inclusion and human rights, I request that I be permitted to have this day off. Specifically, I would like to have this as a paid day off in addition to other paid days off that I am entitled to pursuant to my employment contract and/or the collective bargaining agreement of my union.
Permitting me to freely join my African Canadian community members for Emancipation Day offers our organization a small opportunity to voluntarily demonstrate its racial justice leadership through an act of micro-reparations to people of African descent for the sufferings of slavery and the TransAtlantic Slave Trade. Further, granting this request would be consistent with the “preservation and enhancement of the multicultural heritage of Canadians,” as constitutionally protected at Section 27 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Finally, whether or not my request is granted, I would like to use this letter as an opportunity to request that our organization further and/or foster an active conversation about how we can demonstrate a deeper and more concrete institutional commitment to preventing and addressing anti-Black racism in our services, operations, hiring, promotion, retention, professional development opportunities, and workplace culture. I would love to support advancing corporate excellence in our office through this conversation. I welcome having this meeting with you and other interested members of staff and management in the near future. I’m happy to assist with organizing this once you let me know of your availability for this important meeting.
Here are some resources to review as you consider your decision:
- International Decade for People of African Descent
- International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade
- Report of the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent on its mission to Canada
- “Reclaiming the Legacy of Canada’s ‘Emancipation Day’” by Anthony N. Morgan
Thank you for your consideration.
[YOUR EMPLOYEE NAME and JOB TITLE PRINTED]
This letter was republished from the Nova Scotia Advocate.