Indo Caribbean World marks its 25th year as a publication with this edition. To begin appreciating the milestone that this anniversary represents for this newspaper is to understand that its growth has been a direct result of how strong our numbers have become as Indo-Caribbeans, and how firmly our roots are being put down in Canada.
It is safe to say today that Indo Caribbean World’s humble start as a twice-monthly newspaper 25 years ago is also a reflection of our start as a community here in the GTA. In the year 2008, as Indo-Caribbeans we are a strong and vibrant group within the Caribbean community in the GTA, and throughout the rest of Canada.
The bigger picture is Indo-Caribbeans now make up a community of about 200,000. This, within national growth that shows in 2008 census data the number of visible minorities at five million, which is 16.2 percent of Canada’s total population. Over the past 25 years, the census shows Canada's visible minority population growing steadily - in 1981, the estimated 1.1 million represented 4.7 percent of total population. Within today’s South Asian picture, we are now Canada’s largest visible minority. As the figures reveal, this growth was driven largely by immigration. From the years 2001 and 2006, the figure climbed to 26.2 percent. For Indo-Guyanese, our arrivals were 4.2 percent, and for Trinidad and Tobago, 2.5 percent. So not only have we become a strong South Asian community, we are growing in numbers as an Indo-Caribbean group. And as we know so well, we exert a tremendous presence in the GTA as part of the Caribbean disapora.
Even as we measure census data, the World Bank is noting growing financial health. Its ‘Migration and Remittances Factbook – 2008’ continues to reveal growing support from the diaspora to our Caribbean homelands, yet another indicator of how well we are doing abroad. The reports says record sums of remittances are heading to the Caribbean from Canada and other countries. Last year, Trinidad and Tobago nationals living abroad sent home (US) $92 million, up from $38 million in 2000 - Guyanese abroad sent home $218 million, up from $27 million.
As a newspaper we have grown with our community, and have reflected this social and economic strength faithfully for 25 years. We have captured for posterity the incipience of this quiet growth of our Indo-Caribbean and Caribbean history through the many pioneers who have contributed to our community taking root – from the owners of Caribbean food stores to the roti shops, the bakeries, shipping companies, the professionals – doctors, lawyers, real estate, financial advisors; too, the nightclubs, the many concerts promotions, our churches and alumni groups – all are recorded as part of how we have grown as a community and as a newspaper. We continue even today, recording the events with the Naparima alumni, our own 50+ seniors, in the summer picnics with the Enmore Cultural Association, or with Enterprise-Nonpareil. How firmly are our roots being put down in Canadian soil!
And even as we note this, Indo Caribbean World has remained motivated over the years not only with the strong support received from its advertisers and writers, but also with the feedback from readers throughout the GTA, across Canada, and even from overseas. And saying this, we were recently touched by the kind words from a reader whose congratulations arrived in the mail: “...It is with pleasure I send to you and your writers best wishes... Your newspaper has travelled with me throughout my many postings with the Armed Forces: North West Territories, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Afghanistan, Germany. In times of isolation your writers have given me reading enjoyment, laughter, and brought back memories of yesteryear.”
A humbling note from a place much further than where the majority our newspapers have circulated for 25 years.
We could not be here without your support. To our advertisers and readers: thank you very much.