February 19, 2011

Some thoughts on the migrant experience from a Canadian-Guyanese in Toronto

By Kevin de Silva for In the Diaspora

This piece is a response to an article, “Canadian Guyanese longs to come home” that appeared in the January 30th edition of Stabroek News. It isn’t meant to be read as a criticism of this article, which enumerates the benefits of the Canadian experience for the Guyanese diaspora. Canada as a place for wealth and opportunity is a strong enough theme in both popular talk and I would argue, even seeps into the Caribbean unconscious. Yet such a belief is rarely coupled with a different, more pragmatic understanding of the situation for Guyanese people in Canada. Whenever confronting a picture the key is to not see in two toned terms or in overblown colour, nor to focus on one isolated dynamic. The point is clarity, and a broader analysis, simply for the sake of honesty.
In the land of plenty, mega-supermarket temples dot the landscape with shelves full of food; items ranging from watches and furniture to toothpaste and shoes, all found of course, in one convenient location. The somewhat religious fervor of those who frequent these resource depots, as well as the cold and almost robotic activity found inside, is something still foreign to me, a person born and raised among them.
“Gyal, mi a come in las’ week and di soup a $2.09, mi come today an it $2.49. You people a lie.” An elderly Guyanese man, possibly in his 60’s, was scolding a sales representative about the store and his soup. The lady, who also was from the Caribbean answered calmly: “Sir we probably had a sale last week that’s over now.” The man snapped back, unconvinced by her explanation: “No, no, no. I un wan hear dat. Y’all people a lie and di aisle dem not even clean, everyting a mix-up, mix-up…”

Read full article here.

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