A Scattering of Seeds: The Creation of Canada
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General History


Dr. Wadell, like other Trinidadians, came to Canada to find greater opportunity in their lives. In his case, it was the opportunity to attend medical school. Once he set up practice, it was Canada who benefited greatly from his desire to become a doctor, and Dr. Wadell is rightly remembered for his selfless work in community and public health.

From the early 1900s, West Indian immigrants have come to Canada to find work, but unlike Dr. Wadell, contributed to Canada's economic life by providing cheap labour for the building of our country. Between 1900 and 1945, they were employed primarily on farms or in mines and factories. They also worked as mechanics and domestics or as waiters, porters and clerks. This pattern changed in the 1960s, when thousands of skilled workers came to fill a burgeoning job market, particularly in education, health services and office work. Between 1962 and 1966, almost 33% of Trinidadian immigrants sought work in the professional and technical categories. Because of the savings in labour-training costs and the productivity of the new arrivals, Canada has been one of the beneficiaries of this developing world's "brain drain."

In the late 1970s, there was a marked change in immigration eligibility categories (fewer independents, more sponsored applicants) and in labour qualifications (education and training). At the same time, employers continued to hire temporary workers in agriculture and in the services sector. The thousands of Trinidadians who have migrated to Canada have been in search of a better life. They have provided Canada with a wealth of teachers, nurses, civil servants, lawyers, doctors, engineers, skilled artisans, factory workers and labourers. And of great importance for Canada, Trinidadians have come with an understanding of living in a multicultural society. As a result of their heritage in a diverse country, Trinidadians are well situated to play a critical role in Canada's emerging multicultural nation building in the new millennium.

With almost 150,000 people of Trinidadian origin in Canada, the impact of this small group on Canadian culture and social life has been profound. One of the most evident influences has been in the field of popular culture. It is during their yearly festival, Caribana, that Trinidadians introduce other Canadians to the hot hot rhythms of soca and calyposo as they parade in spectacular costumes down the streets of Toronto for one day in August. (see sidebar for further information).

Trinidadians' cultural contributions also flourish in the areas of literature, theatre, and dance with prominent individuals such as Ramabai Espinet, Jeff Henry, Frank Birbalsingh, Sam Selvon, and Neil Bissoondath. Trinidadian music has had considerable impact on Canadian popular music culture in night clubs in Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver with styles as diverse as calypso, steel band, soca, and has influenced the emerging Hip Hop Canadian sound.

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