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De love vine – Canada we coming

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De good news foh de Caribbean, and SVG in particular, is dat Canada is in great demand foh skilled wukers. Commencing Wednesday, January 2, 2013, dey launched a new “Federal Skilled Trades Program foh prospective immigrants!” Dis is to help address ah serious labour shortage in some parts of Canada. Ah recall in November 2011 while ah was in Canada, just driving from Brampton to Toronto, ah was stunned when ah saw de amount ah construction wuk going on: new highways, massive commercial buildings on either side ah de highway, large scale housing projects, apartments blocks etc.{{more}} My brother-in-law jokingly explained dat in addition to Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring, in Canada dey now have ah fifth season, it’s called “Construction!” He showed me dat skilled wukers making big money and went on to list de areas in greatest demand: “welders, mechanics, electricians, plumbers, refrigeration and air-condition technicians, heavy duty equipment operators, masons, carpenters,” just about everything. Dis new release from Canada takes me back to de early 1950’s when Canada had opened its doors to domestic immigrants. Was ah nice package; immigrants were to wuk on ah two or three year contract, after which dey were free to seek other employment, send foh dey relatives, dey boyfriend who had to marry her on arrival. Secondly, candidates had to be literate, have more dan de 3R’s as in Reading, ‘Riting and Rithmetic, and be able to speak proper English. Domestic wuk in SVG back den was foh de uneducated, so obviously de Immigration in Canada was not looking foh our kind ah domestic wukers; dey wanted people wid subjects, and dey got dem too. Ah number of our Civil Servants and girls wid secondary education took up de challenge. Mind yuh dey were among de hi-T-ti-T in society, not familiar wid house chores and had to be trained in kitchenology: “cooking, baking, setting de table and so on.” Ah Crash Course was convened at de Home-Ec Centre, still located between Prep School and de Agriculture Dept. Primary School Home-Ec Teachers, Tanty Belle Allen and Janet Antrobus conducted de course. As youngsters from de Village which was nearby, we loitered around till dey were finished “Sampling de dainties,” cup-cakes, sandwiches wid green and pink cheese, we knew bout coconut tarts, but we tasted tarts wid meat (patties) foh de first time.

Den our lovely daughters left and de remittances came in all form. At de end ah de contract dey all moved on to better paid jobs, greater things, university education. Some boyfriends got remembered and migrated, while others were forgotten; siblings and parents were able to migrate as well. Although dat program didn’t go on foh long, it was ah great exchange.

BACK TO SKILLS AND TRADES So after 60 years, Canada is about to reinvent de wheel of skilled migrant wukers, but we are no better prepared now, dan we were in 1950, to tek up de challenge. Time we get started wid another Eddy-care-shun Rev-all-yuh-shun! Mek use ah all dem Learning Research Centres, equip dem accordingly foh night classes foh our tradesmen, teach dem de theory and practical, teach dem basic maths, how to read building drawings, how to operate electrical and power tools correctly, get dem certified. Is about time we get our priorities Right! Let us go forward by equipping our schools to produce Graduates wid skills ready foh gainful employment. Spread de Gospel according to Skills and Trade, beginning in de Primary Schools, and dis will in no way stop any child from becoming clean clothes professionals. Ah remember when Jerrol Thompson was on his “Ah Lapped-up ah child” escapade, 30,000 Lapped-up; ah asked ah simple question, who will build de houses, catch de fish, plant de food, fixed de cars etc, and who will repair dem Lapped-up when de kids start ah mash dem up. “Oh Bassy, don’t worry,” Jerrol said; “ we are sending 30 teachers to be trained in servicing de equipment.” Do we have one such teacher yet? Ah want to invite de same Jerrol to visit de Min. of Education and let someone show ah store room, wid hundreds ah Lapped-up dumped dey foh want ah repairs. At nights, de kids and adults in my village sit under de Internet cable line wid Lapped-up watching movies and playing games, not ring-games, computer games. We can still come thru all ah dis as winners; but remember one hand can’t clap, we got to be united as One! Our house is too divided, it will not stand! We getting tired ah being fed wid lie-in promises bout our E-con-ah-me. Ah few years ago, SVG was “on de cusp of an E-con-nah mek Take off,” SVG still on de ground, no Take-off, plans changed, dis year we will see “ah Kick-start to de E-con-ah-me.” So from ah “Take-off” to ah “Kick-start!” What’s next Mr Pry-Minister, “ah Jump-start” or ah “Push-start?” And wid dat is gone ah gone again.

One Love Bassy

Bassy Alexander is a land surveyor, folklorist and social commentator.

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