Blacks in Saskatchewan History: Recent Immigrants, 1950 to the Present
R-A1255 to R-A1265
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Summaries of interviews
Interviews conducted in 1977 under the "Towards a New Past Programme" of the Cultural Activities Branch of the Department of Culture and Youth. A significant number of Blacks immigrated to Canada and Saskatchewan in the 1950s coming mainly from the West Indies. It is this group of people upon whom Trevor Rock focused his study, hoping to provide a basis for comparing the experiences, problems and impressions of these new immigrants with those of earlier Black pioneers. The informants come from a variety of places and backgrounds and include: a psychiatric nurse from Trinidad taking classes for a degree in Social Work, a nursing home orderly from Jamaica, a factory worker formerly a library attendant and construction worker in Jamaica, an occupational therapist from Barbados, a factory worker from Barbados, a retired professional baseball player now a steam engineer from Cuba, a psychiatric nursing instructor from Barbados, a nurse from Barbados, and a certified public accountant who immigrated from Nigeria to England and then to Canada. Three interviews were conducted with people who have some connection to the Maidstone colony in the North Battleford area and the Black pioneers of the 1910 to 1920 period. Discussion follows a basic pattern where people relate why they decided to immigrate to Canada, the benefits they have gained by coming to Saskatchewan, the social, economic and cultural problems they have encountered and how they have been able to contribute to Saskatchewan life. Most experienced a general lack of discrimination here though there are some isolated examples of it in hiring, finding accomodation and police protection. They speak of the Diefenbaker government's policies regarding immigration and the Green Paper mentioning problems which Blacks have in immigrating to Canada. One gains an understanding of the educational systems, job opportunities, living conditions and family relationships in Barbardos, Cuba and Nigeria. Comparisons are made to these aspects of Saskatchewan life. They see a need for Blacks to associate through an organization and speak of their social activities together. The racial relationships they find at their jobs are described. As well, several individuals speak of homesteading in the Maidstone colony, one person tells how life improved in Cuba following the revolution and another describes the system of royal heredity of the Kalabari in Nigeria. Most informants indicate that they are happy with their lives in Saskatchewan and appreciate the opportunities they find here.
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