Jamaican Canadian

"'Ethnic group
group=flagicon|Jamaica Jamaican Canadians flagicon|Canada
poptime=231,110 0.7% of Canada's population [http://www12.statcan.ca/english/census06/data/highlights/ethnic/pages/Page.cfm?Lang=E&Geo=PR&Code=01&Table=2&Data=Count&StartRec=1&Sort=3&Display=All Ethnic origins, 2006 counts, for Canada, provinces and territories - 20% sample data] , Statistics Canada (2006). Retrieved on August 11, 2008.]

caption=Notable Jamaican Canadians: Donovan Bailey, Kardinal Offishall, Jully Black, Rob Rainford, Jonathan de Guzman, Ryan Thelwell
popplace= Greater Toronto Area, Southern Ontario, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec
langs=Jamaican Patois, Jamaican English
rels=Christianity, Rastafari
related=Black Canadians, Jamaican British, Jamaicans of African ancestry, Chinese Jamaicans, Indo-Jamaicans, Jamaican Americans, Japanese Jamaican, Jamaican Australian

A Jamaican Canadian is a Canadian-born person of Jamaican descent, or a Jamaican-born person with Canadian citizenship.


Among the many West Indian countries whose citizens emigrate to Canada each year, Jamaica is no exception. Most Jamaicans who leave the island and travel to Canada find themselves settling in Montreal, Ottawa or Toronto. The total number of Jamaicans in Canada has increased dramatically since the 1960s, [ [http://ccach.org/blacks_in_Canada.pdf Blacks in Canada: A long history] , Canadian Social Trends (2004). Retrieved on August 11, 2008.] and the reasons for coming are also different. Currently, Jamaicans who live in Canada can be found in every major Canadian city and occupy a multitude of occupations.

The first group of Jamaicans in Canada

The first group of Jamaicans who came to Canada did so against their own will. However, they stood firm on their convictions and refused to taken advantage of. West Indian slaves were imported into New France and Nova Scotia individually and in small numbers. However, the Maroons of Jamaica who entered Halifax in 1796 were the first large group to enter British North America (The Canadian Encyclopedia, 2000).

The name Maroons was used to describe slaves who ran away from their owners and created free communities away from the European settlements in Jamaica. A war between the Maroons and the British broke out on the island of Jamaica in 1795. The war ended when the British realizing that they could not win, tricked the Maroons into laying down their arms and then carried them into exile in Nova Scotia (James & Walker, 1984).

Governor John Wentworth settled the Maroons who numbered over 500 on the out skirts of Halifax and offered the men jobs to fortify the Citadel. Standing proud and still holding on to the memory of being betrayed by the British, the maroons mounted a strong resistance and refused to be compliant Nova Scotian settlers. After numerous appeals to London, the Maroons were allowed to return to Sierra Leone in West Africa in 1800. The “Maroon Bastion” stands on Citadel Hill as an example of their legacy and the sense of pride they contributed blacks remaining (James & Walker, 1984).

Between 1800 and 1920 small numbers of West Indians were brought from Jamaica as labourers for the Cape Breton mines and from Barbados to work in coal mines in Sydney and Nova Scotia. Migration from the West Indies almost virtually stopped after 1920. As a result, the West Indian population in 1941 was smaller than it was 20 years earlier. Even thought pressure for migration in the West Indies mounted, The Canadian government refused to allow any more non-whites into the country (James & Walker, 1984) (James & Walker, 1984).

Blacks were stereotyped as lazy, sexually over active, criminally inclined, and genetically programmed for inferior status. This belief was used to influence immigration policies, which excluded non-whites from entering Canada. In 1908, Robert Borden the leader of the Conservative Party stated, “The Conservative Party stands for a white Canada”. Not to lose face with voters, the Liberal government passed immigration that excluded non-whites, except when they were needed for cheap labour (James & Walker, 1984).

Jamaicans in Canada after World War II

After World War II, a great demand for unskilled workers resulted in the National Act of 1948. This Act was design to attract cheap labourers over sea from British colonies. This resulted in many West Indians, including Jamaicans coming to Canada. The Jamaicans who entered Canada after World War II did so because they still believed it was an opportunity to escape poverty and seek a new start in a world where personal advancement and success seemed to be encouraged. Wanting to stop the in-flow of black West Indians, the Walter Act of 1952 was passed to impose a “severely restricted quota” on black West Indians entering the country (James & Walker, 1984).

In 1955 Canada introduced the West Indian Domestic Scheme (Anderson, 1993). This Scheme allowed eligible black women who were between the age of 18 to 35, in good health, no family ties and a minimum of a grade eight education from mainly Jamaica and Barbados to enter Canada (James & Walker, 1984). After one year as a domestic servant, these women were given a landed immigrant status and were able to apply for citizenship after five years. Even though the Scheme originally allowed only 100 women per year, 2,690 women entered Canada from Jamaica and Barbados by 1965. In 1962, racial discrimination was taken out of the Canadian Immigration Act and the number of Jamaicans who came to Canada dramatically increased (Lazar & Dauglas, 1992).

Jamaicans in Canada after the 60s

Because changes in the Immigration Act allowed non-whites to enter Canada without restrictions, many Jamaicans took advantage of the opportunity and entered Canada with hopes of achieving their goals for a better life. After the purging many racist immigration policies, a large number of Jamaicans started to enter Canada as tourists and many would later apply independently for landed immigrant status (Anderson, 1993).In the late 60s, the Canadian government instituted the Family Reunification clause into its immigration policy, which made it even easier for Jamaicans and other groups to bring their loved ones to join them in Canada (Anderson, 1993). Thus, during the 70s and 80s most Jamaican who entered Canada were children and husbands of the many Jamaican women who came to Canada between 1955 and 1965.According to Anderson (1993), Caribbean immigrants to Canada were more likely to settle in large cities and their provinces of choice were Ontario and Quebec. The largest concentration of Jamaican immigrants can be found in the following areas of Greater Toronto: Scarborough, Old Toronto, North York, York and Mississauga. Other cities include Montreal, Edmonton, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Kitchener, Waterloo, Windsor and Halifax (The Canadian Encyclopedia, 2000).

In 1989, 86.7% of Jamaican immigrants settled in Ontario, 7.4% settled in Quebec, 2.6% settled in Alberta, 1.1% settled in British Columbia, 1.7% settled in Manitoba and 0.6% settled in the rest of Canada. Jamaicans made up 27.5% of the total number of West Indian immigrants for that year (Anderson, 1993). Because of language concerns, most West Indian immigrants settle in Ontario as opposed to Quebec. In addition, Toronto is the largest city in Canada and is a magnet for West Indian immigrants (The Canadian Encyclopedia, 2000).

Jamaicans in Canada

Jamaica by far has been the major source of West Indian immigration to Canada since west Indians were allowed in Canada. Between 1974 and 1989, 35.7% of all West Indian immigration to Canada came from Jamaica. Nevertheless, there was a decline during the early 80s, a recovery during 1986 and a decline again by 1989 (Anderson, 1993). According to the Canadian Encyclopedia, Jamaicans made up 40% of West Indian immigration in the early 90s.

In a 1996 overview from Immigration Canada, Jamaica was ranked eighth in terms of the number of its citizens immigrating to Canada. Jamaica is preceded by countries such as China, Pakistan, and the Philippines in the number of its citizens that migrate to Canada. The number of Jamaicans immigrating to Canada declined in 1997 and again in 1998. Jamaican immigration to Canada is at an all time low; it is currently ranked number 10 by immigration Canada for the year 2000. Almost 130,000 Jamaican-Canadians live in Toronto and almost 31,000 in Brampton.

Jamaicans in Quebec

According to the Ministere des Affaires Internationales, de L’Immgration et des Communautes Culturelle et la Ville de Montreal, in 1995 there were 7345 Jamaicans living in Quebec, however, a more recent show that number to be much more. Between 1960 to 1970 28% of immigrants in Quebec were Jamaicans, during 1971 to 1980 there was a sharp increase to 41%, there was a significant drop to 12% between 1981 to 1985 and between 1986 to 1991 the number went up to 20%.

One possible reason for this drop between 1982 to 1985 might have been the language law Bill 101. Bill 101, which was introduced by Quebec’s separatist government on August 26, 1977, introduced tighter restrictions on the use of English and access to English schools. It became against the law to produce any commercial sign that was not exclusively in French, and the law aimed to make French the language of the workplace (O’Malley & Bowman, 2001).

Of the total number of Jamaicans living in Quebec, only 20% can speak French and 86% practice Christianity as their religion. One percent of the populations have no schooling, 13% have a primary education, 45% have high school education, 25% have a college education, and 16% have a university education (Ministere des Affaires Internationales, de L’Immgration et des Communautes Culturelle et la Ville de Montreal, 1995).

2006 census

According to the 2006 census, 231,110 Canadians identified themsleves as Jamaican Canadian. The actual number of Jamaican Canadians should be larger, given that many people identified themselves as "Black", "West Indian", or "Caribbean".

Material culture

Food: A spicy, colourful mix of cuisine includes ackee and saltfish, rice and peas, jerk chicken, fish and pork, curried goat, pepperpot soup, roasted yams, banana fritters, patties, salads, fruits and exotic desserts. Beverages include carrot juice, ginger beer, almost all kinds of fruit juices, coconut water and sorrel.

Arts and crafts: Creations in straw, clay, fabric, shell, wood and semi-precious stone are on display in most Jamaican homes. African, Indian, European and Arawak cultures influence Jamaicans Arts and Crafts. Depicting life and landscape, Jamaican paintings feature bright colours and bold lines. No Jamaican kitchen is complete without a dutchy (a cast iron pot). Dutchys come in different sizes and it is said that, “the blacker the dutchy, the sweeter it cooks”.

Theater: From the 19th-century Ward Theater to innovative little theaters and thriving centers for drama in Kingston, Jamaicans like a broad range of theatrical treats. Plays depict a variety of Jamaican experiences.

Sports and Games: One could argue that the national game is domino followed by ludy. Sports of choice include Cricket, soccer (the reggae boys), bicycle racing, water-sports, horse racing, rafting, and track and field.

List of notable Canadians of Jamaican descent

*Philip Akin
*Bromley Armstrong

*Donovan Bailey
*Margarett Best
*Jully Black
*Mark Boswell
*Cindy Breakspeare (Miss World)
*Lascelles Brown
*Rosemary Brown (politician)

*Mary Anne Chambers
*Austin Codrington
*Charmaine Crooks
*Michael Lee-Chin

*Julián de Guzmán
*Jonathan de Guzmán
*Franklyn Dennis
*Fefe Dobson
*Orville Lloyd Douglas
*Dwight Drummond

*Robert Esmie
*Gerald Eaton

*Saskia Garel
*Mark Anthony Graham
*Kamala-Jean Gopie

*Carl Henry
*Nalo Hopkinson

*Simeon Jackson
*Ben Johnson (sprinter)

*Kardinal Offishall
*Molly Killingbeck
*Kristin Kreuk

*Sandra Levy
*Nicole Lyn
*Glenn Lewis
*Lennox Lewis

*Atlee Mahorn
*Stacey McKenzie
*Orim M. Meikle
*Michie Mee
*Mista Mo

*Rob Rainford

*Tony Sharpe
*Makeda Silvera

*Angella Taylor-Issajenko
*Ryan Thelwell

*Clement Virgo

*Marcia Williams


External links

* [http://www.jamaicandiaspora.org/articles/0025.html Jamaican Diaspora]
* [http://www.caribbeannetnews.com/2005/12/29/praises.shtml Caribbean Netnews]
* [http://www.caribweekly.com/feature/index.html Carib Weekly]
* [http://www.jis.gov.jm/special_sections/Independence/jamaicansInCanada.html Jamaicans In Canada]
* [http://www40.statcan.ca/l01/cst01/demo26a.htm Statcan]

name = Jamaican diaspora
title = Jamaican diaspora
list1 =

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