Loretta Graham-Fogwill

Country of Origin:

Jamaica

Themes:

Black History/African Heritage, Racism/Discrimination, Identity & Heritage

Photos:

  • Browse while you listen: images with relate to audio

show/hide audio synopsis


Bio

Joyce obtained graduate degrees in Science-M.Sc., Education-M.Ed., and Public Affairs-M.P.A at the University of Manitoba. She worked as an Instructor in the Biological Technology Program, in the Applied Sciences Department at Red River College of Arts, Science and Technology (RRC) in Winnipeg for 31 years.

Joyce also participated in curriculum development and reviews, program initiatives, evaluations and surveys in her department. During her tenure at the college, she was also Manager of International Education. In this capacity, she managed and pioneered Human Resource Development Projects, funded by the Canadian International Development Agency through the Association of Canadian Community Colleges (ACCC), and arranged many cultural and educational programs for overseas trainees at RRC.

Over the years, Joyce has participated as a presenter in many educational, science-related, race-related and women's conferences and events.

I also became interested in Nature Photography and recently wrote and published a Children’s nature story with beautiful colour photographs, and donated the proceeds from the sale of this book to Childrens Science Education programs and the Carnivorous Plant Collection at the Conservatory

The Childrens Book Title: Bubs the Bumblebee and her most unfortunate, fortunate adventure by Joyce Graham Fogwill.

Story

My name is Loretta Graham-Fogwill and I’m from Jamaica. After almost forty years of living in Canada, I still reflect on my place in my adopted country. I arrived in Canada from Jamaica in 1966, a university graduate in science filled with enthusiasm, adventure, and hope for my new life in Canada. Immigration was for me an option, not a necessity. There was no war or personal oppression in my homeland and if I had chosen to remain, I probably would have had a high position, living a very comfortable life. However, I chose to immigrate to Canada.

I was determined to accept any fair challenges that came my way, and to make positive contributions to Canadian society. I started working as a teacher, continued my education, and settled down to raising my son. I felt at ease with my choices. Some years later, a professional friend visiting from Jamaica expressed the view that although he thought life for me was good in Canada, he could not live here “as a second-class citizen.” I denied that I lived as a second-class citizen, but every so often I think about his remarks.

So let me explore this: It is true that I have experienced both overt and covert acts of discrimination here in Canada. For example, the apartment that was rented, but subsequently available to a white friend. After my complaint the superintendent was fired, and I was offered the apartment and received a letter of apology from the owner. Then there was the teacher at my son’s school who was failing him in English, until I told her that as a teacher myself, I was going to review his English assignments after they were marked. His marks immediately changed from ‘F’s to ‘B+’s. There have been many instances of hidden and ‘nice guy’ discrimination to which I have been subjected. As a college instructor, I recall some black women students who told me of discriminatory actions towards them in the classroom. My advice to them was simple, “These things happen. Do not give up your professional education as a result of discrimination. Keep trying.” Most are graduates now and doing well in their chosen profession. I often feel that since I was not part of the ‘Old Boy’ network, being an outsider – a black immigrant woman – I’m at a disadvantage, and doubly denied opportunities.

Conversely, some people think that being female and black, I have twice the opportunities. Well, I cannot agree with this. Of course, there are many positive aspects to life for me in Canada. I have seen the reaction of many visible minority students towards me. They will greet me with a special hello and ask, “Are you an instructor here?” I have many positive relationships, and numerous discussions with students and my coworkers and friends about my insights and perceptions. I have many wonderful friends who all contribute to making me feel at home in Canada. The challenges that I have given myself are to confront racism wherever I experience or become aware of it, to help to develop in my environment equal opportunities and respect for all, and to work to improve visible minority participation in Canadian life. So why do I feel the need to write this essay? I’m writing for the benefit of my son, his generation and their children, for the thousands of black women who do not feel that they have a voice in this society or who feel that they should not speak out, and as a thank you to my husband for supporting my many ideas and varied activities, and to my friends of all races, male and female, who share with me my enthusiasm for life in Canada.

A Follow up to my Passages to Canada Essay:

Many years have gone by since I shared my thoughts on being an immigrant in Canada for Passages to Canada. I am now retired from the workplace and time has given me the opportunity to reflect on the changes in our evolving Canadian society.

Canada is now a diverse mixture of people of races, colours, cultures and ethnicities from all over the globe. My son and others like him are now adults, some with children of their own, all contributing in different ways to this evolving Canadian society. This diversity has created misconceptions in some Canadians which might often lead to efforts to dominate, subjugate and exploit people because of their differences in culture, colour or ethnicity. Although there have been many efforts to recognize, combat and deal with racism and its effects, racism still persists, the perpetuators continue and the victims have to deal with its negative effects. My aim in writing this is to try to help those of us who often struggle with the outcomes of such attitudes and behaviours in our society.

To my fellow Canadians: Please remember that efforts to combat racism rest with all of us. If you see acts of racism, take action, however small-to prevent or discourage such behaviour.

To Racists in Canada: Please realize that other groups are here to stay. You might not like that fact,but we hope that together we can find ways to change your attitudes and actions so that we all can live together in harmony. You do not have to like us, and if, in spite of our efforts, we are not able to change your behaviour, please do not try to interfere with our lives in any way to prevent us from living up to our potential-especially our educational, economic and career opportunities. Do not impose on others attitudes and behaviours that you would not like for yourself.

To Victims of Racist Behaviour-. I have learned from my experiences that racists try to rob us of our dignity and self esteem - be a Victor not a Victim. There will be challenges both in the workplace and in everyday life. You can overcome these challenges by being confident, determined, strong, efficient and proud. Expose racist behaviour however and whenever you can.

Remember Bob Marley’s words: “Get up, Stand Up, Stand up for your rights.”

Let these words be your mantra: “I will never allow any one to rob me of my dignity, my self esteem and my rights”