Secret Life of Canada

Here's why Canada doesn't have a Caribbean province

In the latest episode of The Secret Life of Canada, co-hosts Leah Simone-Bowen and Falen Johnson look at the historic connection between Canada and a number of islands and countries that make up the Caribbean.
A worker harvests ripe coffee berries in Jamaica's Blue Mountains. Canada has a long history with the islands and countries that make up the Carribbean, as well as its workforce. (A. Gilbert Bellamy/Reuters)
Listen to the full episode49:57

Where in Canada can you spot dolphins, palm trees and beach parties in February? 

In an alternate universe, the answer is Jamaica — one of a select few Caribbean islands that might have become Canadian provinces if history had unfolded a bit differently.

In the latest episode of The Secret Life of Canada, co-hosts Leah Simone-Bowen and Falen Johnson look at the historic connection between Canada and a number of islands and countries that make up the Caribbean.

In a wide-ranging episode, they revisit the early history of "West Indian" migration to Canada, explain why the Canadian railways relied on Caribbean manpower and connect the dots between a fleet of Sleeping Car Porters and a bustling black labour movement. 

Three porters talk outside of a train car entrance in July 1969. (Morse Collection/Gado/Getty Images)

What you'll hear this episode

  • When and why people from the Caribbean started coming to Canada. 
  • Canada's discriminatory policies toward black people from the region. 
  • How Jamaica, Barbados and The Bahamas almost became provinces of Canada, and who was for and against the idea. 
  • How Rihanna and Leah Simone-Bowen are related, or not. (Spoiler: Leah's working really hard to establish that link.) 
  • The story of Sleeping Car Porters, their history-chronicling spouses and their battle with CP Rail to form a union. 
  • How Winnipeg became a hub of the black labour movement
  • How today's labour and immigration policies are still impacting people from the Caribbean. 

References

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