Protests against British royals in Jamaica gain support in Toronto, black group says

Toronto residents with Caribbean ties say they sympathize with protests against the British monarchy in Jamaica as a controversial royal tour continues this week.

Prince William and Kate Middleton are in Jamaica for two days as part of a tour of Central America and the Caribbean. Protesters gathered ahead of their arrival on Tuesday. Around 100 individuals and organizations have published an open letter demanding that Britain apologize and provide reparations to its former colony for forcing hundreds of thousands of slaves to work in dire conditions.

Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness told William and Kate, the Duchess of Windsor, on Wednesday that the country intended to sever ties with the monarchy.

Anyika Mark, spokesperson for Black Urbanism Toronto (BUTO), a non-profit organization that aims to increase black participation in community development, said she supports the protests and believes Caribbean Canadians in Toronto will were doing too.

“Of course, slavery was brutal everywhere, but Jamaica is known to be historically a very brutal slave colony,” Mark said.

“I think what we’re seeing in Toronto is massive support to leave those oppressive power structures behind, create our own path, and start being our own people in the way that we know.”

She said the British Empire “took so much” and the tour was creating frustration in Jamaica, as William and Kate are expected to be warmly welcomed, despite the “dark and horrific” history of the tour. Britain.

“Anti-black racism is so personal to us. We can kind of see those correlations happening in Jamaica as well, and so, I can understand how angry a lot of the Jamaican diaspora is,” he said. -she adds.

Anyika Mark, spokesperson for Black Urbanism Toronto, said, “I think what we’re seeing in Toronto is massive support to leave behind these oppressive power structures,” (Anyika Mark)

Toronto barber Jermaine Cowan, owner of Stubz Hair Studio, said if he was in Jamaica he could be part of the protests. Cowan, who left the country in the 1990s, said he was angry the Royals weren’t more present when Jamaica was building its nation in the 1970s and 1980s.

“I would love to see them there more often. Because I grew up in Jamaica all those years, I’ve never seen them in Jamaica once,” he said.

But not everyone supports the call for change.

Toronto reggae singer Hugh Mullings, interviewed at a record store in Little Jamaica, said he wanted the Queen to remain Jamaica’s head of state.

“There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s great that they’re going back to Jamaica,” he said.

“If we follow Christ, we should think about forgiving and stop worrying about the past. Learn from the past in the present and solve our problems.”

Mullings said it’s important to consider the implications of major policy change before acting. He said Jamaica’s history is intertwined with Britain’s and noted that singer, songwriter and musician Bob Marley had a British father and a Jamaican mother.

The royal tour coincides with the 60th anniversary of Jamaica’s independence and the 70th anniversary of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

Britain ruled Jamaica for over 300 years. The country gained independence in August 1962 but remained in the British Commonwealth.

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to stories of success within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project that Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

(Radio Canada)