Country of Origin:
Black History/African Heritage, Racism/Discrimination, Identity & Heritage, Multiculturalism & Diversity
Channon Oyeniran was born in Scarborough, Ontario but grew up and currently resides in Ajax, Ontario. Interested in black history and eradicating racism in the black community from an early age, Channon’s keen interest in these areas helped her realize that she must do all she could to educate others and raise awareness of the rich history of black people. An enthusiast of reading, travel and writing poetry, Channon has an indescribable passion and thirst to not only know more about history, in particular- slavery (historical and modern), but to educate people on these issues and to in some way stop it from continuing! An Honours graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in History and Caribbean Studies from the University of Toronto, a Master’s Degree in Slavery Studies from the University of Hull in the UK and a Certificate in Adult Education from George Brown College, Channon has expanded her knowledge and information about black history and the issues that the black community faces both locally here in Canada and internationally. As an executive member of Light Generation-a youth based organization in the Ajax and Pickering area, co-founder of Oyeniran Education Support (OyES), an educational organization; she continues to use these platforms in orientating young people about Black History. Apart from participating in international Anti-Slavery conferences and workshops, Channon is currently a member at the Ontario Black Historical Society (OBHS).
A Reflection: Why Jamaica is an important part of my heritage?
From the people, to the food, to the music, to the culture, to the history, Jamaica tells me where I came from, who I am, what I can do and who I can be. Jamaica is the most unique place that I know, and the history of the country excites me the most! Through Jamaica’s history, not only can I determine how the country was formed, but who the Jamaican people are, where their roots began, where my ancestors came from and how the Jamaican culture was formed. My Jamaican heritage is important to me because understanding Jamaica as a nation, as a people, helps explain to me the roots of my family and where we came from.
I remember my late great grandmother Isola Crump telling me that our family are descendants of the Maroon people who inhabited the terrains of the island’s mountains during the Transatlantic Slave Trade. When she told me this about our family, I remember feeling a sense of pride knowing that I come from a line of people with strong and fearless qualities. The Maroon people did not accept the conditions of slavery nor the laws that said they as human beings were the "property" of other human beings between the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries.
The characteristics that the Maroon people exhibited tell me that not only my family, but all Jamaicans hail from a people that were strong, independent, courageous and warrior like. The legacy of the Maroon people in Jamaica is one reason that forms Jamaican heritage and makes it so rich.
Another reason why my Jamaican heritage is so important to me is because of the pathway and relationship that Jamaica has forged with Canada since the eighteenth century to the present. During the third year of my undergraduate degree, I took an African Canadian History course and was amazed at the history, and connections that Jamaica had with Canada. For example, I was proud and admired the Trewlany Maroons who were sent to Nova Scotia in the eighteenth century by the British and eventually played a tremendous role in the development of the province of Nova Scotia. Also while conducting research for my Masters dissertation, again I was surprised, proud and uplifted that Jamaicans (including my family) starting after World War Two chose Canada, specifically Toronto, to be their home and continue to create that ever present and significant pathway between the two countries. Learning about Jamaica’s history and its relationship to Canada has helped me to feel closer to where my family is from and have a curious yearning to know more about the people who helped form this special nation.
My Jamaican heritage is a part of me, intertwined with me; I can never forget where it started. I see it every day as it influences the city of Toronto, the food, the music, in my home, when I speak to my family and other friends.