When the Air–Canada 982 lowered and touch the runway at Pearson International Airport on the evening of June 1st 1991, I immediately looked forward to prosperous times. Despite the vicissitude of the past years in Jamaica, the thought of coming to Canada had led me to believe it’s a land of tremendous opportunities, blessed with harmony, civil liberties and great humanities. After all, it’s a developed nation, a member of the G-8, rich, powerful, technologically and industrially advanced.
Consequently, things had to be better and like me this must have been the thought of those I left behind, a better chance of ensuing success. How could I not be inspired and influenced by the many relatives that came on vacations from abroad, the neighbors, the strangers and even the tourist? All suited out in clothing of Milan, Paris, London and New Yorker designs, dangling gold chains around their necks, fingers laden with glittering diamond rings, the foreign accent and the “Almighty” dollars. The rentals driven and the affordable exquisite lifestyle enjoyed upon their visits.
The numerous big jobs they held down overseas, the glamorous life they lived, tales and pictures of the cars they owned, pictures of their furnished apartments, the barrels that came with sneakers, jean pants, corn flakes, Uncle Ben rice and the sweet smelling bath soaps and perfumes and the postcards and registered letters with money orders inside.
And what of the returning farm workers with tape decks and clark’s boots and kongol hats buying every man a drink down the bar, the bull shape motor horn bikes they brought back and of course many of us must have known (Cousin Thelma) that had migrated, far less educated than ourselves, who sent back pictures with Auntie of her at work adorned in nurse apparels and (fool, fool Buzo) in technician gown, (Bwoy wey neva noe “A” from Bull foot). And so when the opportunity presented itself I packed bag and baggage and boarded the flight without hesitation.
Thirteen years to the date and Canada is now an experience that has left me an indelible sweet bitter memory. The sweetness of which has become the nucleus of the collective consciousness of being BLACK and Jamaican and as serve much my purpose.
Here in Canada some of us Jamaicans have arrived without landing documents and work permit and while others have, almost the same fate besets us all. Many have since developed an exceptionally talented cadre of skills without employment opportunities. Nearly every institution does not recognize the qualifications; work experiences and achievements from “Third world countries,” as our beloved Island, that they the foreigners flocked to so often, have come to term it.
If lucky, we compete then are offered low paying jobs by Agencies to labor in warehouses and in homes while our applications and resume never seemingly meets the Canadian standards for higher jobs in their offices, labs and board rooms. It is so hypocritical to hear them profess the love of our shores, reggae music and food, yet hold us in contempt and in subjugation within this marginalized racist society disguised under the banner of multicultural ideals. The Canadian Society operates and dominates by the tendencies of a modern day apartheid system base on economics and limited proportions. Our ladder of success becomes horizontal and our progress can only be measured by what we posses now in contrast to what we had then back home.
The unaffordable cost of university tuition fees, the dilapidated drug invested housing projects of which many of us still can barely afford its cost, the phone bill, cable bill, credit card interest rates for those who don’t yet have bad credit, the unending wave of police brutalities, racial profiling, harassment, the shootings among our black youth and so-called take downs are frighten realities of Canadian Life. The homelessness, the cold, the cut backs on social programs, the lack of funding towards Black establishments and courses pertaining to Blacks in the field of Arts, Science and Technology are the things our relatives kept from our knowledge.
Like others before me I must now take my big up trip a yard, I will use my tax return, two weeks vacation pay, use the baby bonus, my GST rebate, collect my partner draw, max the credit card, visit the food banks and load the barrels, hold a wear off me brethren bling bling, delay this month’s phone and cable bill, mail the rent cheque unsigned, pack me bag and step… (Si mi yah)