Country of Origin:
Trinidad and Tobago
Citizenship, Immigration, Black History/African Heritage, Racism/Discrimination, Human Rights & Social Justice, Identity & Heritage, Multiculturalism & Diversity, Adjusting to Life in Canada
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Kendrick is the President of KCcommunication. He is a consultant, speaker, mentor, trainer, and diversity specialist.
He has worked for the City of Calgary as an Information analyst, a diversity and inclusion advisor and in customer service.
He has a university degree in commerce and business management, and is trained public relations. He has worked with a number of ethno-cultural communities and sits on numerous boards and committees both professionally and on a volunteer-basis.
“A One-way Ticket to Canada, A Dream Come True”
My personal immigration story is all about me immigrating to Canada, a place I always wanted to come to since I was a child.
I was born on December 28, in a town called Chaguanas in Trinidad & Tobago. I am the youngest son of Sylvan Phillip Charles and Ruby Lena Charles. I grew up with three brothers and one sister – out of nine children, we were the survivors. I can remember growing up and my brother taking me to school. I was a very quiet child during those years, but I was very fascinated by people of other cultures. I can remember travelling on the bus, and there was a white girl who sat in front of me, and I would play with her long hair. Her parents were very friendly – I believe they were from another country. Every time I travelled on the bus, I would always look for this girl. But they had moved away.
While growing up, I always wanted to come to Canada to visit or study. Both my older brothers left and settled in England and Canada to study. While I finished my high school in Trinidad, my mother and I had conversations about me going to Canada to study.
I was born into a good and respectful family and my parents did their best for their children. It was 1965 when my brother whom I had not seen for a long time came home to Trinidad to visit with his wife and first-born son. Everyone celebrated while he was there.
A year later on March 3, 1966, my wish came through I received a letter and a one-way ticket to Canada. It was the greatest day of my life. My parents knew about this surprise before me, as they were planning my future for a year without me knowing. The morning of March 7, 1966, I remember getting up real early – in fact, I don’t think I slept at all the night before. The whole family was prepared to go to the airport to give me a good send-off. I felt sad at the airport – sad to leave behind my parents who I loved dearly. As I was about to board the aircraft, there were tears running down my face. I did not want to say goodbye for fear that I may never see my parents again.
When I arrived in Montreal, the first port of entry, I felt overwhelmed. It was the first time I saw snow on the ground for real, and I felt like going out and dancing in the snow.
When I arrived in Vancouver, my brother and sister-in-law met me at the airport. The climate was a bit different there – it was raining. Two days after I arrived I remember it snowed and I stood at the window staring at the snow. I found my first winter to be very cold until I got used to it.
I immediately enrolled in a college to bring my grades up to standard, and then attended University . After living in Vancouver for a while, I decided to venture out to other parts of Canada. I first came to Calgary on my way back from Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto. I decided to stay in Calgary for a while, and started to make new friends. My first year in Calgary I found it extremely cold, but I stayed and visited my friends and family in Vancouver every summer. Somehow I fell in love with Calgary and decided to make it home.
In April of 1971 I became a citizen of Canada and it was a proud day for me. It meant that I had all the rights of a true Canadian and I have lived as a Canadian ever since, obeying all the laws.
One day in my early days in Calgary I was walking downtown when I stopped in at the Chamber of Commerce. I was just curious to see what they had to offer (I was job hunting at the time). It was the Junior Chamber of Commerce and I immediately joined the organization. That is where I got my start volunteering. From then on I found my passion. After the Chamber I turned to communities and the passion I have has followed me all the way. My passion today is to have all ethnic and minority groups and youth in Calgary integrated into the Calgary community associations and to help young people learn leadership skills through their communities.
I have accomplished a lot since I came to Canada and I would like to see the same for other immigrants. I am involved with ethnic and other communities, I am sit on an advisory committee with diversity and inclusion in the workplace. I know that Canada has a lot to offer and I am proud to call myself a Canadian.
My goal is to integrate newcomers to Canadian society and make them feel welcomed.