Monday, 30 May 2016

Life On "Jamrock" The Story of my Heritage

When asked about my Heritage I instantly reply with Jamaican. Which often see people replying with "what, Really?" Yes, truth be told my paternal Grandfather is from Jamaica. In the year 1946 he left Jamaica to go to England to get a better education and to a country with a better job market. For in Jamaica he had been driving trains, which did not pay as much as his new job as an accountant.

Now a little more about my grandfather. His grandfather had emigrated from Germany in the 1850s as there was a need for workers in Jamaica at that time. As one article puts it "Jamaica has experienced high levels of migration since it became a British colony. From the 17th through the mid-19th centuries, European traders relied on forced labor from Africa and later indentured labor, initially from Europe (particularly Ireland and Germany) but then from India and China, to work on Jamaican sugar plantations alongside the indigenous Taino population."(Glennie/Chappell 10).
This seems to be the probable reason for my great-great-great-grandfather's emigration from Germany.

At the Time my Grandfather immigrated, as well as today, Jamaica has been seen, and is in fact a poor country. Most of it's limited wealth comes from it's tourism economy with very few places for jobs requiring higher skill than working at a resort. This leaves many Jamaicans no choice but to immigrate to a new country, with one study showing that the majority of Jamaicans have one or more members working abroad, my grandfather among them.

So why did my grandfather settle in Canada? Well in fact at first he didn't. After World war 2 the first place my grandfather went to was Great Britain. There he received a higher education by enrolling in courses that dealt with accounting. But when applying for a job he met with quite a bit of discrimination. So he and his new English wife (my grandmother) decided to move to one of the colonies. They narrowed it down to Australia or Canada, and as my grandfather had a cousin already living in Canada, the choice was easy. So in 1958 my grandfather moved from London, England to Toronto, Canada, where he has lived ever since.

Now if I were living in Jamaica today I feel that my life would not be as good as it is here in Canada.
This is because Jamaica has a shortage of skilled health care practitioners. This means that health care is much more expensive than it is here in Canada. And considering that Jamaica also has a very high youth unemployment rate, around 34%, I would not be able to afford said healthcare.

Jamaica has one of the highest Homicide rates of any country, currently rated 5th in the world by the world bank. Some 1200 People die by murder each year. This is generally attributed to gang wars. By comparison, Chicago, which has roughly the same population as Jamaica, at 2.7 million, had 468 killings in 2015.

Life expectancy in Jamaica is relatively low at 74 years, compared to Canada's 81 years. This is again due to the fact that Jamaica has a shortage of Healthcare practitioners. Though 99% of Jamaican Citizens enjoy access to fresh drinking water, and 80% have access to sanitation facilities, as listed in the "CIA World Fact Book".

The Population if Jamaica is not very diverse with 92% identifying as black, 6.2% identifying as mixed and the rest as other. The Majority Religion is Protestant Christianity, with only 1.2% percent identifying as Rastafarian.(There's a Stereotype debunked for you, Though Jamaicans do listen to a lot of reggae and ska music.)

Jamaicans enjoy large amounts of literacy, the literacy rate being at 89%, as well as large amounts of Government funding with the current GDP spent on education at 6.3%. Large Amounts of students are taken out of school and are made to commit acts such as child prostitution, and aiding in drug manufacture and distribution. It is estimated that there are 40,000 children currently in these circumstances.       

Overall Jamaica seems like an alright country to live in if your well off, but if you were below the poverty line I could see life being somewhat deplorable. In the end I am glad that my grandfather decided to leave his homeland and come to Canada because no country can compare to the true north strong and free.


  1. Wow, very good report Caleb, I would never have expected that you would have come from Jamaica. I really enjoy how you went into the push and pull factors: how your grandfather had no opportunities in Jamaica, how he experienced discrimination in Great Britain, and how he had a cousin motivating him to move to Canada.

  2. This was very interesting to read! I too was confused and very surpirsed when you first said your ancestors were form Jamaica, but after reading your report I now have a good understanding of your family history! Not only did your push/pull factors help emphasize the reasons as to why your ancestors immigrated to Canada, but when reading some of the facts of Jamacia I see why they would chose to immigrate here. Also, your facts and research about life in Jamacia really helps in understanding how much different your life would really be. Yes Jamaica seems like a decent enough country to get by in, however when comparing it to your life here, there is no competition! Great report!