Editorial: The Jamaican community and creative kids

This week’s edition of the Westman Journal may be thinner on hard news compared to previous publications, but once in a while – preferably more often than not – it is important to shine a light on the lesser-known, positive aspects of our community.

Take the Westman Jamaican Community organization, for instance. A small group of people is taking the lessons they learned from their own experiences and making sure others do not  meet the same impediments they encountered upon arriving in Canada as immigrants. 

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Brandon’s Emelio Brown, Virden’s Shaneil James and a handful of other people with Jamaican backgrounds are sharing the best the cultures of their birth have to offer while ensuring new immigrants to Western Manitoba are not overwhelmed by what can be “culture-shock” for people coming from the hotter climate found in the Caribbean.

Established just a half year ago, the Westman Jamaican Community has already held a fundraising social and is preparing to host another on Sept. 21. The event, known as JamRock, will feature Jamaican music, food and beverages for a party that should have Brandon residents pining for a winter break down south when the snow comes later this year. Money raised from the event will be used to establish a Jamaican Pavilion at the Westman Multicultural Festival held in Brandon in February. 

Ultimately, however, the organization wants to engage immigrants arriving in the region with little knowledge about our culture, climate or community services. The long-term plan is to develop care packages for newcomers. They are expected to include winter clothing and pamphlets containing information on the best choices in phone plans, banking services, shopping options and opportunities to be mentored by someone already established here.

The hospitality being laid out for newcomers by Canadians who, themselves, have only just arrived here a few years ago provides an example to follow for many of us who have lived on the Prairies our entire lives. 

The story of the Westman Jamaican Community can be found in the Local News section.

Meanwhile, 16-year-old Galli Kubari and 11-year-old Maya Kirby are providing a flicker of hope for the future of Canada’s artistic sector. Kubari and Kirby are the winners of the Brandon Public Library’s 2018 Summer Short Story Contests. 

What is most impressive is neither author wrote their story for the contest itself. Writing is something they do for the sheer joy of being creative. This sets them apart from many youth in the contemporary age of smartphones and video games.

Also, the youth are readers. Most writers, as described by the likes of Stephen King and Pierre Berton, are and should be voracious readers. The fact that this pair places such an emphasis on the literary arts shows, firstly, their parents are motivating them to step away from the computer screen and television and, secondly, their peers are encouraging them to continue creating in a way that is fundamental to a fully functional, dimensionally-wide, healthy society. 

Many journalists started as Kubari and Kirby have; wiling away a summer afternoon on a blanket in the sun outside with a good book in their hands. Or stepping away from lesser intellectually stimulating entertainment to come up with, develop and mold a creation of their own making.

For many Generation X’ers with an artistic bent, these two youth show there is promise for the first generation of the 21st Century. 

A profile of both Kubari and Kirby can be read at in the Local News section alongside their stories.

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