Several women from St. Lucia who came to Canada as domestics, celebrated the 50th anniversary of their arrival in the country, at a reception at Toronto City Hall on Tuesday.
Speaking at the reception, Councillor Jim Karygiannis ( Scarborough– Agincourt) said that the women ” added much to the cultural and social fabric of Toronto.”
One of them, Catherine Alix Samuels, said “we came to Canada for opportunity. We have been fortunate to build lives for ourselves and for our families in Toronto. Today we celebrate our journey and our bonds together.”
The women came to Canada through the Canadian government-sponsored West Indian domestic scheme which was in effect in the 1950s and ’60s.
Karygiannis, the Newcomers Advocate on Toronto City Council, also noted that “the brotherhood and sisterhood of the communities who came to Canada from the Caribbean are strong. They maintained connections through the years, and have raised themselves up, with the help of their churches and cultural organizations.”
Eleven former domestics received certificates of recognition at the reception. They were Rosemary Lubin, Sabina Lubin, Catherine Alix Samuel, Caesar Leonce, Ann-Marie Hippolyte, Aileen Jnpierre, Odilla Mytil, Vianne Charley, Agatha Nelson, Cecelia Brazier and Simone Campbell.
Present at the reception were Stephenson King, a former prime minister of St. Lucia, and Consul General for St. Lucia in Toronto, Cheryl Francis.
In the 1960s, thousands of skilled workers from the Caribbean arrived in Toronto and entered the growing job market in the service industry as well as the healthcare and education sectors.