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I was born in Trinidad my mother died in childbirth and I was told I was the child. My grandmother Vernie came to Trinidad and took myself and my sister back to St Vincent & the Grenadines. Growing up on a coconut plantation on St Vincent I experience all form of abuse, hunger and I can now say slavery. When I got older, I found work in the hotel industry as a waiter, bartender, butler and manager. One September I came to Canada on vacation with the expectation of going back home -- and never did.

Living in Toronto provided me with many new challenges. The first time I experience racism it was like an out of body experience. It was at a coffee shop with six friends… it was my turn to buy… two trays was left, the older gentleman in the line in front of me picked both – I asked if he could leave one for me, and that’s when the racial slurs began… it was the first time I realize I was black -- and what does that mean?

My first son was born 1997 and that changed everything. I had to figure out a way of life in Canada. Then, I met my angel and wonderful wife Rhonda in 1999 and we moved to Sault Ste Marie in 2002.

Moving from Toronto, my immigration file was transferred to the Soo office and that was a big mistake. I was at work when Canada Border Services showed up and arrested me. According to them, I was illegal in Canada. The officer stated that they will have me on a plane back home in a couple of days. While in prison I was not allowed to speak to anyone, not even my lawyer or my wife. The officers requested my travel documents from my wife. They ask if I had a criminal record, my wife replied no, and the officer said, “what you mean no, he is black.”

These experiences have been a pain for a long time, but they have also equipped me with the strength and clarity to be the change I want to see in the world. I am now a Canadian Citizen, a proud graduate of Sault College, a student in Sociology at Algoma University, a certified Toastmaster, a Member of the Local Immigration Partnership, and a founding member of the African Caribbean Canadian Association of Northern Ontario. I have learned that no matter what your life challenges, experiences or circumstances are you never lose the capacity choose.

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