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Written by Administrator   
Saturday, 22 July 2006

Map of Immigration

Indo Caribbeans are a community of about 200,000 people in Canada who have come from India to the Caribbean since 1838, and made a second migration to Canada starting over 100 years ago in 1908.

We are part of a wider community of close to a million Indo-Caribbeans who have made second migrations from 12 Caribbean countries where we first migrated starting in 1838, and just over a million Indo-Caribbeans who remain in those 12 countries.

We seek to preserve our culture and heritage that is notably different from that of the the other South Asians in Canada.  But we acknowledge always that our destiny is to make closer ties with other South Asians in order to make a better life for us all. We must also keep close contacts with other second migration Indo-Caribbeans, especially the 400,000 plus now living in the United States.

This community web site aims to provide  fellow Indo Caribbeans,  other Canadians and any interested persons with all  they need to know about the Indo Caribbean presence in Canada.

We welcome contributions of  documents, articles, photographs, opinions, and links to internet sites of interest to Indo-Caribbeans.

 

Contact: Ram Jagessar at This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it or 416-289-9088

NEW 

 


Indo-Caribbean Women Aim High

By Eve Pearce

As the world becomes more educated and politically correct, there has been a massive change in the prominence of women in Indo-Caribbean culture. From Nicki Minaj, who has become a world renowned pop star, to Kamla Persad-Bissessar, the recently elected Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, perceptions of Indo-Caribbean women are changing for the better.

Onika Tanya Maraj

Onika Tanya Maraj, more famously known by her stage name Nicki Minaj, was born and initially raised in Saint James in Trinidad, the home of recent Indo-Caribbean feminism. Although she moved to New York when she was five years old, it was her roots which drove her to succeed both as a representative of women and as an individual. Her initial role model was her mother, also a successful Indo-Caribbean woman, who held several job titles including accountant, gospel singer and foreign exchange teller. This inherent drive for knowledge and education, change and improvement, was undoubtedly important in shaping Onika’s own ambitions, and it is becoming a clear characteristic of Indo-Caribbean women worldwide.

An intelligent and well-educated girl, Onika is now a successful songwriter, singer, rapper and television personality, as well as inventing an artistic portrayal of her character, with alter egos and varied accents; the diversity of talents seem to stem from an equally diverse and culturally rich upbringing. Onika shared her mother's drive to succeed and expand her knowledge, attending Elizabeth Blackwell Middle School 210 and later graduating from LaGuardia High School, which specialised in music and the arts. As a teen she loved to read educational books and play the clarinet, initially dreaming of becoming an actress. When this career path led to various dead ends, Onika changed her career plans towards music and was initially signed by Dirty Money Entertainment after posting some of her songs on her MySpace. She has since released three albums and four mixtapes, including several number one singles and a number one album. Due to her ambition and her success, she is a role model to many young girls worldwide. 

Kamla Persad-Bissessar

The Honourable Kamla Persad-Bissessar is the current Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, making her another ideal example of a strong, independent Indo-Caribbean woman. She was sworn in on the 26th of May 2010 and was the first female PM in the Republic's history. She is the party leader of the United National Congress, and was also the first woman to ever act as Attorney General, or acting Prime Minister, as she did in 1995 and 2001. 

Kamla, as she is known throughout the country, grew up in a rural district of Trinidad and Tobago, and like Onika, her mother was the driving figure behind her education and higher education, which was completed at Norwood Technical College in the United Kingdom at a time when the social and cultural norms of the Republic confined women and girls very much to the home and marriage. Although Kamla worked as a social worker in London during her education, she was a scholar at heart, and she returned to the Republic on its completion and began to teach at the University of the West Indies. She had strong forward-thinking beliefs that everyone should be treated equally, including women and ethnic minorities, and continued her education as an adult, eventually graduating from the Hugh Wooding Law School and becoming a full time attorney-at-law. Kamla never lost the drive to learn, and as recently as 2006 she graduated again, this time with a Masters in Business Administration from the Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business in Trinidad. 

According to her official website:

'Persad-Bissessar began her political career in local government as an Alderwoman. Subsequently, Persad-Bissessar contested and lost her first parliamentary elections at a time when the parliamentary benches were dominated by men. But she says, "The acute disappointment I felt did not deter me." It was her remarkable persistence and forward thinking that enabled her to achieve greater heights in the political world.'

Again, this persistence and drive was something inherent that seems to stem from her Indo-Caribbean roots and her culturally diverse upbringing. Kamla is also an example of a massive role model for young Indo-Caribbean women living today, as the world continues to change and become more socially accepting and educated. Indeed, in the Caribbean Review of Gender Studies, run by the University of the West Indies, Kamla is actually described as the 'apex of Indo-Caribbean feminism'.

Indo-Caribbean Women's Literature

Prominent writers in the field of Indo-Caribbean women's literature include Shani Mootoo, who was born in Ireland to Trinidadian parents, and Lakshmi Persaud, a lifelong native of Trinidad and Tobago. Just last year, a book of critical essays was published, Critical Perspectives on Indo-Caribbean Women’s Literature, by Joy Mahabir. This is the first critical book on Indo-Caribbean women's writing and  it analyses the literature in great depth from a number of interesting perspectives, such as feminism, post-colonialism and also Caribbean cultural theories. This book and other relevant texts, such as Diasporic Dis (Locations) Indo-Caribbean Women Writers Negotiate the "Kala Pani" are available from Valore Books. This really raises awareness that Indo-Caribbean women's literature is a newly-formed, constantly developing and expanding field in the world of cultural written works. As well as giving a cultural insight into the lives of Indo-Caribbean women, literature is an important tool for gaining knowledge in a relevant field. Both Nicki Minaj and Kamla Persad-Bissessar used reading as a way to increase their knowledge, intelligence and ultimately their power as women.

To conclude, the world is changing and with it the status of Indo-American women is evolving. From prominent role models such as Onika Miraj and Kamla Persad-Bissessar, to a whole new category of critically acclaimed writing, Indo-Caribbean women are only now finding their voice on the worldwide stage.

 

Our most generous sponsor of the last few years is

 

 

 Some of the material included here is sourced from the Toronto based newspaper Indo-Caribbean Times, which can be accessed through the internet at  http://www.esnips.com/web/Indo-CaribbeanTimes?docsPage=2#files

 


Last Updated ( Thursday, 18 April 2013 )
 
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