'Growing Up: Canadian Jamaican'. These are stories from my life: From my earliest years growing up in Jamaica, to growing up again in Canada as a teenager. Looking back on my journey, I can now say that I loved my my hybrid upbringing. But there were times when I resented being caught between two cultures.
I wrote this book to help young people, particularly those recently arrived in Canada, navigate their own journey. But the stories apply to anyone at any age who is struggling with their personal identity. I hope you find one or two that resonate with you. If you do, please share with someone who could benefit.
I got stuck at age 12 growing up in Jamaica. Two years later it began again in Canada. Mentally and emotionally I tumbled between honouring my Jamaican heritage while fitting into my Canadian world. “Who are you?” we were asked repeatedly. “It depends…” was my answer to that question.
With my upbringing, I didn’t identify with the typical ‘Jamaican’. In Jamaica we lived in the affluent suburbs outside of the capital city of Kingston. We went to Catholic private schools. We played and partied behind gated and walled yards. We travelled in comfort between these compounds. Looking back, it was an isolated and privileged upbringing. The crack was working with Dad at his Gas Station on the edge of Trench Town, a world class ghetto!
In Canada we were jolted into middle-class life in the suburbs of Mississauga far from the Jamaican Hood. We visited family and friends in their homes in Brampton and Markham. We didn’t attend any of the traditional Caribbean or Jamaican events or activities. Actively stayed away! It was working class more than the upper class.
And we were different. We could ‘Pass’ until we spoke. Then the Jamaican accent gave us away.I’ve grown into a Canadian Jamaican accepted by friends and business associates.
Along the way I found my inner strength. I’ve used it to help myself and others. This book pulls together a number of stories from my journey. I hope you find one or two that resonate with you. If you do, please share with someone who may need help on their growing up journey.
Click this link to buy a copy of 'Growing Up: Canadian Jamaican'. Both eBook and Paperback available.
Until next time...