Afro-Caribbean Community – Antionette Bryan
Jamaica is a nation in one of the Caribbean islands, where just under three million people inhabit. It is an English-speaking nation with a dialect commonly referred to as “Patois”. The origin of the popular genre of Reggae music, the vibrant and festive spirit inhabited by Jamaican people resonates from their warm beaches with palm trees to other parts of the world including Canada.
Antionette Bryan is a psychiatric nurse at St. Boniface Street Links. She identifies as an Afro-Caribbean Canadian, and her parents are from Jamaica.
“I grew up in a large and extended Jamaican family [in Winnipeg]. I realized the uniqueness of my family when I was about twelve years old. My parents joined the Afro-Caribbean Association of Manitoba when I was a kid, so I grew up there as well. It was a great experience to meet other kids who grew up as a first-generation immigrant. The lively culture of dancing and eating Jamaican dishes helped shape my strong cultural identity. Having that sense of community is so, so good.”
Antoinette emphasizes her love for Jamaican food. Its national dish is ackee and salt-fish, which resembles scrambled eggs but with more flavours and satisfaction. This, along with jerk-chicken, fried plantains, green banana, curry goat, mackerel, and more make up the diet of many Jamaican Canadians. “Any foodie would just be in heaven,” Antionette remarked.
Additionally, being an active member of the Afro-Caribbean community was heightened when her parents helped initiate the establishment of the Afro-Caribbean pavilion for the Folkorama festivities in Winnipeg. Her love for sharing the joy of her culture with other Manitobans expands with these festivities. Priding in her Jamaican identity extends with her big, supportive family who will always provide her with a cushion to land. Curious about her family’s roots and history, she explored the origin of her ancestors through the Ancestry DNA test, and she discovered that her bloodline came from the Ivory Coast in Ghana. Embracing these roots and the culture she grew up with, she would enlighten those that are discovering their identity: “A piece of advice I would give them is to go back in time and look into your family’s roots and history.” Going forward with this knowledge, she plans to connect with the land and people in Ghana.
While connecting with oneself is vital to one’s happiness and success, Antoinette also values the importance that multiculturalism brings to society. “There’s something that can be learned from every culture and ethnicity,” as she stresses the contribution of each ethnic group in a community. It is essential to accept the diversification of a community, by consistently learning about how each person identifies and embracing one another’s culture. As Antoinette consistently interacts with people of varied identifications, she describes that her most important value is to treat everyone with kindness and respect. In turn, these help establish the sense of community and family, and Antoinette hopes that everyone has the sense of belongingness that her Jamaican culture helps her achieve.
Authored by David Teffaine
Edited by Natasha Byrne
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