Underground Freedom Train Ride set for Monday night in Toronto

A unique event that commemorates the abolition of slavery in the British Empire will be held tonight in Toronto.

Hosted by the Toronto Transit Commission, in support of Blackhurst Cultural Centre (formerly A Different Booklist Cultural Centre), to mark Emancipation Day on Aug. 1, the annual Underground Freedom Train Ride will get underway at 11 p.m. with a ceremony at Union Station.

At 11:45 p.m., the “Freedom Train” will depart from the station’s University Line for a non-stop ride up to Downsview Park Station and wrap up with a special event there that will include singing, drumming, and moments of reflection.

The train will then return to Union Station for 12:45 a.m.

“The first year, it was an idea; it was a vision coming to life,” said Louis March, a member of the event’s planning committee.

“It was this idea of using our TTC system to symbolize the Underground Railroad, which is a movement of slaves from America coming to Canada seeking freedom.”

March told CP24 that it’s important to recognize that Emancipation Day is an integral part of Canadian history.

“It’s the Canadian fabric; the history,” he said. “Because those people that escaped America seeking freedom here have now become integral members of a society, of a community, of a country that has embraced these people and incorporated them into the day-today living and experience of Canada.”

Up to 1,200 can take part in the train ride, which the TTC said aims to give participants an opportunity to “reflect on the historic and dangerous journey that formerly enslaved people took to reach freedom in Canada.”

All are welcome.

“The TTC is proud to host the annual Emancipation Day Underground Freedom Train Ride, which marks an important part of Canadian history,” TTC Chair Jon Burnside said in a press release.

“On behalf of the Board, I thank Blackhurst Cultural Centre and the TTC team for organising this meaningful and engaging experience, celebrating freedom, and supporting our ongoing efforts to confront anti-Black racism.”