A Scattering of Seeds: The Creation of Canada
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General History
OBSTACLES

Dr. Wadell and his family experienced racial discrimination in Canada from the very beginning of their lives here. Though it is to the credit of Dalhousie University for accepting him into their medical school, prejudice was rampant when he moved to Halifax. A person with dark skin was not welcome, and Dr. Wadell couldn't even find a place to stay on his arrival in 1933. While he was the only "colored" member of his class, he did win acceptance of many of his classmates. Like Dr. Wadell himself, they were furious when the medical school could not 'find' a hospital for Dr. Wadell to intern in (a working apprenticeship is a required step toward receiving medical licensure). Fortunately for Dr. Wadell, his classmates let it be known to the Dalhousie administration that they would boycott their own internship placements if Dr. Wadell, like them, didn't receive one. Eventually, he was given a spot at a local Tuberculosis hospital (TB sanitarium).

Dr. Wadell's wife arrived in Canada with their children after he was already settled. Upon arrival, she was greeted by a shocked immigration nurse who commented, in reference to the children, "My gracious, they're so clean." This rightly angered Mrs. Wadell, because she recognized the nurse's surprise at her children's fine grooming. The nurse obviously expected little black children to be dirty and ill-kept.

Unfortunately, the Wadells were not initially accepted by either the whites or blacks in their community. The whites didn't accept them because of their built-in prejudices and stereotypes against blacks, and the blacks thought the light-colored Wadells weren't fully black, and besides, they were from Trinidad - not North American blacks like them! They didn't need help from a "Caribbean type."

Eventually, with hard work, determination and commitment to caring for the sick, particularly the poor and marginalized (including blacks and Chinese), Dr. Wadell won the acceptance of his community.


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