155th Owen Sound Emancipation Festival

Media Contact: Owen Sound Emancipation Festival                                                                         
Blaine Courtney, Chair                                                                                                
(519) 376-9684  fblainecourtney@gmail.com


The Owen Sound Emancipation Festival announces substantial funding partners to support its expanded 155th annual festival, the longest continuous emancipation celebration in British North America




Owen Sound, Ontario – As a result of significant funding for the Owen Sound Emancipation Festival, the 155th annual celebration will present award winning author Lawrence Hill at its expanded celebration.


The importance of an event to any community is reflected in the support it is able to attract. Over its 155 years of ongoing activity, the Owen Sound Emancipation Festival has continually garnered community goodwill and enthusiastic supporters to allow for meaningful programming. “2017 may represent the greatest testimony to that statement” said Festival Chair Blaine Courtney. Through the dedication of the Board and volunteers, we are pleased to introduce three major contributors for the 155th Festival, the organization’s largest event yet.


As a first-time partner, TD Bank will be the Festival’s Diamond Sponsor thanks to a generous grant to support the Festival. Through their continued commitment, The Department of Canadian Heritage andCommunity Foundation Grey Bruce return as Platinum Sponsors.


These corporate, public and philanthropic sector contributions along with local donor and sponsor support has allowed the Festival to enhance the full weekend program beginning with Lawrence Hill, award winning author of the best-selling Book of Negroes. Mr. Hill will be the keynote speaker for the Third Annual Les MacKinnon Memorial Address at the Speaker's Forum which will be hosted at The Roxy Theatre.The recent winner of the $50,000 Canada Council for the Arts’ 2017 Molson Prize for his distinguished arts career, Mr. Hill will receive this reward at The Roxy.


The North is Freedom by Yuri Dojc is another riveting complement to the 155th annual Festival. Featuring images of local families, the exhibit honours the contributions of once-enslaved African Americans and their descendants who came to Canada via the Underground Railroad to find refuge in Grey and Bruce Counties. Portion of this exhibit were featured at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, DC to celebrate the 2016 opening of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Schedule of Events:

Friday, August 4 at The Roxy Theatre at 7:30 pm: Speakers Forum featuring Lawrence Hill, with guest Bobby Dean Blackburn. Doors open 6:30 pm, tickets $30 at www.roxytheatre.ca or by calling 519.371.2833


Saturday, August 5 from 9:30 – 11:30 am at Harrison Park: Ancestors' Breakfast. Meal followed by special service of remembrance and thanks at the Black History Cairn. $5/breakfast.


Saturday, August 5 from 12:30 – 6:30 pm at Harrison Park: Festival Picnic featuring vendors, youth activities, historic displays and a live blues show featuring local musicians led by Bobby Dean Blackburn. By donation.

Sunday, August 6 at 11 am at Grey Roots: Gospel in Moreston Village, featuring Michael Dunston, david sereda, Millers in Thyme and the community choir. By donation.


Sunday, August 6 at 12:30 pm or immediately following Gospel in Moreston Village at Grey Roots: North Is Freedom Photographic Exhibit by Yuri Dojc. By donation. Please also visit Black Roots in Grey exhibit on site.


“In an era punctuated by escalating discrimination faced by the Black community, newcomers, Muslims, Indigenous persons and many others, the Owen Sound Emancipation Festival is proud of its efforts to keep the local Black history alive while highlighting the important contributions of Black Canadians. We are extremely thankful to everyone who supports us through volunteering, donations or talent” said Blaine Courtney, who will retire after 10 years of valued service to the organization, including seven years as Chairperson.


Owen Sound Emancipation Festival

Honouring our ancestors and the freedom they won for us.


Website: www.emancipation.ca

Facebook: Owen Sound Emancipation Festival


Rachel Taylor