World Literature in English, 1998
The Caribbean Diaspora in Toronto
  • Causes for immigration: Push and Pull
  • Two factors of discrimination
  • Examples of Racism
  • Hall's view of differential incorporation and its applicability to Canadian cases
  • Caribbean population in Canada
  • Features of Caribbean immigration
  • Relationship Breakdown: Reasons
  • Coping Mechanisms
  • References

    Causes for immigration: 

    The myth of the Caribbean Paradise has traditionally been linked with another that of the New World as promised
    land.  For the early European explorers, the Caribbean was the gateway to the fabled treasures of Central and South America, and, above all, to "the Great and Golden Citie of Manoa."  On this basis, Paradise and El Dorado are mythic symbols of the
    migrant's dream, both for newcomers to the hemisphere and for migrants within it.  (Brown1 p.  2  ) . . .
    "The tradition remains a powerful one in our own time. . .
    Caribbean immigrants to Canada, therefore, stand at the intersection of two powerful myths: one reflects the outsider's limited
    perception of the Caribbean as idyll, and the other reflects the islanders' idealistic expectations of Canada. (Brown1 2)

    West Indian immigration
    Like many groups from the non-white Commonwealth and from the Third World in general, West Indians were long effectively  barred from Canada unless they fell into a few specific categories.  For West Indians these categories were student and (female) domestic help.

     . . .Since the mid-sixties, three factors have changed the pattern drastically.

    West Indian views about Canada     Brown2 378-39
    The familiar anger of Canadians who resent foreign economic domination always strikes something of a false note among West
    Indians whose islands are economically dominated and partially owned by Canadian corporations, banking and insurance
    company, and import-export interests.

    Recurent Themes:
    The personal themes of exploitation and racial rejection in the lives of "the domestic servants."
    The black nationalist themes

    Canada as a mosaic—West Indians have developed an uneasy and fairly complex relationship with Canada.  It is a
    promised land of sorts, a haven from Caribbean poverty and neo-colonialism.  But the El Dorado of the north is also fellow
    victim of a colonial heritage.  Canada's history and international status would seem to encourage affinities with the Third world, but her questionalbe role in the Caribbean economy encourages the suspicion that the fellow colonial has become a member of  the global imperial elite.  Black ethnic pride both encourages the solid sense fo a West Indian community within Canada, and stimulates hostility towards Canada's exclusive whiteness.  The ideal of a Canadian mosaic is particularly attractive to West Indians who have always had to forster a coherent West Indian regionalism; but the palpable limitations of Canaidan attitudes towards non-white citizens encourage the suspicion that the proclaimed ideal is another example of Canadian hypocrisy. (Brown2 379)

    The differential incorporation of Caribbean people in Canada can be explained in terms of two major forces that affect the community:
      1. the maintenance of cultural patterns that impede mobility in Canada, such as some family patterns, relations with education, social and leisure patterns, etc.; and
      2. racial discrimination. (Frances p. 15)
    differential incorporation
    Stuart Hall's view of differential incorporation of West Indians in UK

    By the end of 1950's, the strategy of 'Black assimilation' had already been cast aside¡K

    Next came the strategy of 'acceptance' which meant that Blacks took on and accepted the role of second-class citizens¡KHall writes that 'what was primarily at issue here was the differential incorporation of the Black community into the White respectable working class. Its outcome would have been, not fusion with, but "informal segregation" within, the culture of a subordinate class. ¡K

    Another strategy was to separate West Indians even further from mainstream society.  In order to do this, West Indians had to form an enclave community, or what Hall calls 'a colony society':

    formation of the ghetto 'colony' was defensive and corporate response. It involved the Black community turning inn upon itself ¡K in the face of public racism that rapidly developed ¡K through the 1960's. In another sense, the foundation of colony society meant the growth of internal cultural cohesiveness and solidarity within the ranks of the Black population.
  •  Blacks in Canada
    1. [Internal colonial model] Its applicability to the Canadian context is evident in the growth of a Black underclass in Toronto. ¡KThe development of a stigmatized underclass or 'colony' further divides the Caribbean community, the majority of whom are among the 'respectable working class' and the middle class. (p. 21)
    1. Britain began earlier, included more of the less educated and skilled . . .Although Canada encourage women to emigrate to fill domestic service vacancies, the number never reached significant proportions.
    2. UK¡Xsettle in and around London and the Midlands, the industrial area of the country. They are ghettoized in specific areas of cities. In Canada¡Kthe pattern of industrial decline, . . . has not happened to the same extent as in Britain.
    3. Diffeernt Kinds of Racism
      The analysis of the data gathered on and about Caribbean people in Canada suggested that the group as a whole was not structurally or culturally integrated into Canadian society. The concept of differential incorporation¡Xwhich is defined in this context as the inability to access fully the economic, social, and cultural rewards of this society¡Xwas used to described this position. The major barrier preventing incorporation is racial discrimination, . .. 
      • Examples of Racism¡KRacism¡K[individual racism] 
      • They also encounter institutional racism in which the policies and practices of an organization are not attuned to their needs and interests, with the result that the migrants do not derive benefits equal to that of other Canadians.  Disregard for their African and Caribbean heritage in the curriculum of schoool and postsecondary institutions is an example. 
      • Perhaps the type of racism most frequently encountered is the everyday variety in which subtle messages and cues signal the dislike or lack of welcome to a migrant of colour. The most overwhelming form is the constant exposure to media and advertising images, the subtle formr of language and other symbols in which a White, Eurocentric set of values finds expression. 
    Caribbean population in Canada (Frances pp. 28-29)

    [undercounting]  A better estimate is that there are approximately 455,000 persons of Caribbean birth in the country .

    As of the 1986 census, 135,055 Caribbean-born persons lived in the Toronto area.
    1991¡X74 percent in Ontario, 9.1 per cent in Quebec, 15.9 per cent in other provinces.

    Ontario¡Xparticularly the 'Golden Horseshoe' area comprising London, Toronto, and Kingston¡Xcontains the largest numbers.  Two major areas of concentration are metropolitan Toronto and the areas surrounding it, particularly Missisauga and Brampton.  In Toronto itself, Caribbean migrants are increasingly residentially concentrated.  The Vaughan Road, Bathurst, and Bloor areas are almostly entirely populated by people of Caribbean origin, and while the Jane-Finch area is ethnically mixed, most of its residents are of Caribbean origin. The city of Scarborough also has a large contingent of Caribbean people.

    Features of immigration (Frances p. 30)

    Factors for the relationship breakdown
      Perhaps one of the most basic relates to the ways in which male-female relationships are formed within Caribbean society, in which the bonds between men and women tend to lack emotional depth.  The concept of westernized romantic love is, to some extent, missing in societies such as this in which instrumentality rather than affection appears to be the primary motivation in forming relationships, at least to the point of sharing a common household.  ¡KMen want sexual gratification and attention to their food, laundry, and other domestic needs. ¡K A woman, on the other hand, is primarily motivated by the need to find a man who can offer economic support to her, her children, and possbly other relatives. (Frances  87)
      Traditional culturally defined gender relations change with the migration experience, and the primary change is the enhanced role of women as they become financially independent of their husbands and often become the most important support of the family unit. (Frances 89 )
      coping mechanisms
    1. networking

    3. residential concentration: Two of these residential zones are around Egliinton and Vaughen Road and Bathurst and Bloor area. As these zones became crowded, peole began moving into certain sections of Scarborough. As the community became larger and more established, West Indians began moving to the outlying areas of Missisauga and Brampton.(Frances. 229)
    4. The Jane and Finch area in which a substantial number of people on welfare, mother's allowance, and other forms of subsistence live. These area have also been identified as high-crime zones, especially for the distribution of drugs.

      Even poor districts provide that sense of security and togetherness that people cliam makes them feel more comfortable. However, it can also be argued that MTHA's [Metropolitan Toronto Housing Association] apparently deliberate policy of putting Black people together into the same housing units exacerbates the potential for urban social disorder. Examination of MTHA's allocation policy shows that of over eighty housing projects, Blacks are over-represented in eight projects, creating housing zones in which Caribbean-origin people predominate. [choice] Thus methods of housing allocation leading to concentrations of poor Blacks reinforces the differential incorporation of this segment of the community into mainstream society. Frances  230

      [none can be described as a ghetto in the sense of the large-scale ghettos characteristic of American cities.]

    5. religion

    7. closing the class gap as a survival strategy

    9. culture: art, music, literature and theatre¡@

    Henry, Frances.   The Caribbean Diaspora in Toronto: Learning to Live with Racism.   Toronto: U of Toronto P, 1994.
    1. Brown, Lloyd W. .  El Dorado and Paradise: Canada and the Caribbean in Austin Clarke’s Fiction.  Parkersburg, Iowa: Caribbean Books, 1989.
    2. Brown, Lloyd W. "West Indian Writers and the Canadian Mosaic.”  World Literature Written in English 21.2(1982): 374-85.