Ground Zero Abortions

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Abortion is legal in Canada where it is considered a reproductive right. Women health clinics are scattered across the GTA and serve a diverse clientele consciously deciding to terminate their pregnancies.

It was just coincidence that I happen to notice two abortion clinics in close proximity to women’s only shelters and government funded housing. It provoked thought that this may have been mere coincidence, but the conspiracy theorist in me would not allow this rational to stick.

I did some research and came up with a shocking trend that I decided to show through mapping. The map shows clusters of shelters and government houses for poor families in Toronto. Most of them are near to clinics that specializes in abortions. Another dimension is added when consideration is given that the main demographic within these areas are First Nations and Blacks…not trying to call it strategic placing, but it does smell foul.

Take a look at the map.

365 days later…

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It is a year since I have been away from Jamaica and oh, what a year it has been.

I’ve made new friendships, but still support those I created in Jamaica with phone calls, BBM, Facebook, Whatsapp and Skype.  I have been assigned the role of ambassador in social settings when my accent reveals my nationality. This is a role I’ve been happy to fill, because I have been allowed to debunk some of the myths people have of Jamaicans. I have been asked questions ranging from my relationship with my family to how Bob Marley’s music affected my life. One particular question that floored me was if Jamaicans know about Canada. I simply smiled and said yes then walked away to prevent any further interaction. To my new friends I am the official litmus in determining if a smell, sound or taste labelled Jamaican is authentic.

My assimilation into the Canadian society required me to disrobe of some of the bigoted world views that I inherited from my fore-parents. I have been confronted with other lived truths and experiences that have forced me to re-evaluate things I have held as true. I started my journey on the 21st of December, 2011 at 5:10 p.m. from my parent’s house in Jamaica and I am still travelling.

Possibly the most frequent question I’ve been asked is if I miss Jamaica. I’ve often responded with a reflexive yes, but recently it hit me that I was lying.

I don’t miss Jamaica.

I miss the familiarity it affords me.

I miss my family, friends and the memories I created while growing up.

I do not miss Jamaica.

I don’t miss the need Jamaicans have to police your behaviour, dress-code and speech.

The suffocating value system that we cloak in black, green and gold and use it to suppress expression and individuality.

Since my journey began I have pierced my ears and I am contemplating a tattoo.

I have a fire-engine red pants in my closet and a jeans so tight it requires a special dance to get into them.

There are things I have done and expressed that I was afraid to consider in Jamaica.

I surprise myself at times, but it gives me a great feeling that makes my heart smile, a rush that makes me feel like I am alive and living. The thought of shelving these inhibitions I have developed over the past 365 days scares me.

I’ve said I love you more in the last 365 days than I have in my entire life. I have cried openly with members of my family and have fearlessly exposed my vulnerability in ways I dreaded. This journey I am on has taught me more about myself than I cared to know.

I have heightened my relationship with my sisters and made me realize how much I love them. My younger sister sent me a card on my birthday which made me cry. She has never expressed the words she wrote to me and just reading them forced me to realize how much I took for granted. I also realized that had I not been away from home, I may never have read those words.

My mother is my life. Yet, I would get annoyed when she told  stories that I have heard a thousand times before. Now I long for them and laugh my ass off as if I am hearing them for the first time while listening to her on the phone thousands of miles away. I picture her warm eyes, the smell of vanilla that I attach to memories of my mother and the way she smiles while reliving these memories as only a mother can. My father and I are also different. He is no longer the man who I fought on a daily basis as a teenager, but instead has morphed into daddy. A man with his own insecurities who never grew up with a father but was required to play the role without a script. Our conversations has become meaningful since I have been in Canada. I recently saw a picture of my dad and it forced me to deal with his mortality. My father has aged so much within a year. The implications of this realization were not lost on me and all his vices seemed irrelevant in that moment. I have him now and I plan to make it count.

This journey has brought people of various faiths into my life, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhist, Jews and even Atheist. I have been able to sit and listen to world views and lived experiences that challenged many of the things I questioned, as well as things I held as true. I grew up in church. I taught Sunday school, worked at church camps and served two years as Youth Director, but I had major issues with the tenets of the faith I was socialized with.   Surely this will cause many conflicts with family and friends, but I am ready to live with the consequences of my actions that are decided by my perception of the world.

Just a year and already I can document changes in my life. We often tell people, “don’t change, because I love you just the way you are”, yet change is inevitable, even the dead changes.

I am changing and this fact excites me. I look forward to where this journey takes me and how much growth I will experience…and it r the truth.

1st world reality…

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Do you remember that story about country mouse and town mouse? Well, the story creates a scenario where two worlds meet, exposing how different they are and how difficult it is for inhabitants of either world to live within this new context… Let me tell you something, I am a legitimate 3rd world mouse mingling with 1st world mouse and to call it a culture shock would be an understatement.

Everyday is a new eye opener for me, yes, the same Albert who prides himself on being open minded and liberal. Canada has taught me so far that I have been so unexposed.

I never realized how polite I was until I got to Canada. Everybody I see on entering a building I tell good day, however it is rare when I get a response, even when they make eye contact. I may have to cut back on this because it may be a tell tale sign of a new immigrant. I was pulled aside and told that people in Toronto don’t wish to be spoken to, especially during winter, they just want to go on with their lives.

I met a Jamaican yesterday, I knew she was Jamaican before she spoke to me because she had a very Jamaican hairstyle; the Shabba Ranks “Trailer Load” video was missing a cast member because she was sitting in the mall wearing a security guard uniform. When I spoke to her she asked me where in Jamaica I’m from and right then and there I made a connection in a land I have no direct family members. So strange how these things work.

Have you ever seen a building 170 stories tall? Have you ever tried to see the top from the base of this building? Well my dear, picture this 3rd world mouse trying to do so and it was when I saw myself in my head that I realize how frightened I appear. I’ve always loved architecture, statues and monuments and Canada afford me the luxury of seeing them daily. The churches are all lovely, the statues are gorgeous, the parks are immaculate and the fake hair looks real, yes, it doesn’t just sit there on the head, it actually moves with the wind…except the Jamaican security guard. For the untrained eye you may think it is real, but thanx to Tyh and Caprece, I know how to spot a good Brazilian hair piece a mile away :D. 

I love this next fact and it is exciting each and every time. You can check the bus schedule and actually work with it. The bus arrives at the specified time stated on the schedule. If you miss that bus another one will be there in less than 5 minutes. Now tell mi if that isn’t exciting? Taking the bus is not frowned upon either. “Ohh, me, I don’t take the bus,” is a common expression in Jamaica. Well my dear, everyone takes it here, whether you are heading to work in a suit and tie, or travelling home from the supermarket, or just came in with a suitcase from the airport. The public transport system has all types and it isn’t an issue; I love that. I have to give shout out to the “subway workers”. Now, this is what I call the folks who walk onto the subway and use it as their personal runway. Tyra would be proud and I am in LOVE with the front row seats I am given. Can you tell I am enjoying this?

Now another shocker just occured as I typed, LIGHT WENT, yes, I guess it isn’t only the JPS that these things happen with. Now I had to go check if someone was tampering with my electricity source, but it really did happen, light did go for real. JPS I apologize.

I will continue to write about my experiences and talk about the difference that exist between Jamaica and my new home, it is different and cold but I like it and it r the truth.