Fri | Feb 26, 2021

I feel like a human being in Jamaica

Published:Thursday | January 21, 2021 | 12:18 AM


WE MOVED our family to Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, in February 1977. We are Jamaicans. We are also Canadians.

As a community activist, I look back over the span of 44 years and am struck by the community activism leadership taken by Jamaicans who are also Canadian.

I believe it is because we, Jamaicans, deeply believe we are ‘human beings’. We accept nothing less. Our painful history strengthened this resolve.

Many years ago, Marcus Garvey inspired, and is now an icon for Canadians of African diaspora descent.

Today, in Canada, the loudest voices for recognition, knowledge, action and change in the black community over these 40-plus years are most often individuals of Caribbean heritage and predominantly Jamaican. This, added to the fact that there are many individuals and children of the Jamaican diaspora in Canada who hold high office and leadership positions in this country. They have a voice, and it is heard.

It may be of interest to you and your readers to know about an important contribution to the ‘we are human beings’ conversation around black and brown people in Canada.

Lauris DaCosta, a Jamaican, had a vision and dream for Canada. The dream was to do a video montage depicting a thin slice of the history of the black community in Canada. Her vision was to make such a video available for Canadians of all types to have knowledge of the dynamic, long-standing contribution of the black community to the building of Canadian society. Again, yet another Jamaican who saw the need, and at the age of 84, said, “It needs to be done, it must be done.”

The history of black Canadians was nowhere to be found in Canadian school curriculum. It is in very recent times that this is slowly changing.

Written out of past textbooks, many of us of Caribbean heritage have pushed to see this change.

Our youth need to know the important and dynamic legacy of their African diaspora ancestry in this country. Proudly, the dream and vision are now a reality, three years later.

Martin Luther King’s words highlight something of the best we are or can be, because, as Jamaicans, no one can make us feel less human than another. This is my observation.