CARIBBEAN WORKER PROGRAM 2018
The fall season marks new beginnings for many of us, but for our friends from the Caribbean who stay here throughout the spring and summer months, this is the time that things are winding down. Their crates are all packed up and ready for shipping, to meet them in their respective homes throughout Jamaica, Trinidad, Grenada, St. Vincent, and Barbados, where their families are excited to welcome them back.
As a group over the past number of months we’ve had the opportunity to visit Niagara Falls together (as freezing as that was back in April) to get reacquainted. Our bowling night was an absolute bash, as we packed out the bowling lanes and saw some fierce competition for the annual trophy for the top team among the farms (respect to Edgewood for bringing their ‘A’ game and taking top honors this year!). And then our month of cricket, which saw some great participation despite the intense heat throughout July; more than a few Canadians were seen hitting sixes and taking wickets during some of the matches, learning from the pros! Our crew from the Lincoln area were disappointed not to be joined by our friends from Niagara-on-the-Lake during the dominoes tournament (in no small part, perhaps, because of the fact that the Niagara crew won the tournament the last time they played our Lincoln guys!), but we had a good time together nonetheless.
Outside of our collective events, we had some creative times together as smaller farm teams. Blue Jays games, plays at the Shaw, and barbeques marked some relaxing evenings among some of ourgroups. Others spent time cooking for each other (both Canadians and Jamaicans), catching a game at the Meridian Centre to mark beginning of the Ice Dogs’ season, and even visiting flea markets in Toronto to look for some of those hard-to-find goods for families back home. Not to mention many muggy evenings on porches and couches together, learning about each other’s families and cultures. Often during these moments it was a pleasure to meet family members checking in on Skype to see how their fathers, husbands, and sons were doing among their seasonal Canadian community.
Our free medical clinic, which we are able to hold at our Vineland location bi-weekly from spring to fall thanks to our partnership with Quest Community Care, was a great resource for our friends again this year. Our volunteers were incredible, carrying out administrative work, medical care, and even supplying food and drink for clinic attendees.
As we recently partied together over good food and music at our end of the year Harvest Celebration, we took the time to observe the fact that our friends find themselves in a position that’s familiar to us. Their incredibly hard decision to work in a foreign country is allowing the next generations of their families to have opportunities which they never had, whether in stable living conditions, permanent homes, quality education, and much more. By a show of hands we realized that almost all of us Canadians in that auditorium were recipients of those same opportunities afforded to us by parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents who had made the same choices as our Caribbean friends were making now.
It’s humbling to be living as a generation (or more accurately, a collection of generations!) who are able to be a part of that story together right here, right now, thanks to this unique and vibrant community here in the heart of Niagara! The fun is just getting started…