Reclaiming origins through struggle

“Greatness is by what we give, not by what we receive,” Lynette Greenidge said, quoting a phrase coined by American author and pastor, John Maxwell.

Greenidge says this quote has been the foundation of the Hamilton Caribbean (HamCar) Women’s group of which she is a member. It is a group of dedicated and compassionate women who are committed to serving the West Indian community of Hamilton. The group has been active for 10 years.

Greenidge is a Hamiltonian, a West Indian of Barbadian descent, and a graduate of Ryerson University. She was also the keynote speaker at a presentation held by the HamCar women’s group on Sunday (Feb. 19), called Roots.

The presentation, held at Hamilton Church of God, looked at the history and origins of Caribbean black history. Topics included the differences between the slavery of African Americans versus Caribbeans, the origins of traditional dishes (to the surprise of many in the audience) and the mixture of cultures in the Caribbean.

It also touched on some of the issues facing the community in Hamilton today.

“[There is] a lack of general knowledge about our place in history, and the uniqueness of the Caribbean experience, a lack of knowledge about our place in Canada,” Greenidge said. “[There are] single parenting homes and family structures that don’t integrate well with Canadian life and youth groups that provide identity and diversity.”

Greenidge says the experiences and stories of the Caribbean community couldn’t be covered and explained in full in a single month dedicated to black history.

“However, it gives us the opportunity to integrate this knowledge into the daily lives of those we coexist with,” she said. “We are not so different after all.”

The presentation included traditional drumming and an interpretive dance.

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About the author  ⁄ Kayla Perna

Kayla Perna is in her final year at Mohawk College in the Journalism program. In her first year she won the Best News Story award for her piece on the Junos in Hamilton. She enjoys puns, food, conversations about race and sex, world issues, travelling and cuddling small animals.

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