Born in Liberta Village, Antigua and Barbuda |
Charlene describes Toronto as “the first home I ever knew,” having arrived in the city the day after her first birthday. When she was four, her family moved back to Liberta Village, Antigua for her to start school. She remembers being called a foreigner by the other kids, something she finds funny considering that she, like them, was born in Antigua.
“There must be been a ‘Canadian-ness’ about me, something I picked up in Toronto.”
Her family often returned to Canada for vacations, but it wasn’t until she was twelve that her mother brought her to Canada to live permanently – and it felt like she was coming home. This feeling has stayed with her to this day, saying “This is where my life and my loves are,” referring to her husband David her children, Gabrielle and Joshua.
“In Toronto, our little mixed race family blends into the tapestry of our beautiful city. We can give our children roots, and they can feel accepted and loved for who they are.”
She believes that here in Canada, her children have “wings to soar and be anything they choose to be.”
Toronto as Home
From the time Charlene was allowed to ride the TTC bus on her own as a young teenager, she would go to the Scarborough Bluffs to sit and watch the waves. She says the lake has always been a good place to reflect on her past and that it reminds her of the 365 beaches in Antigua. But being here these days, specifically with her family, allows her to appreciate how joyful and grounded her life is.
Connection with the Past
Charlene’s Antiguan flag umbrella sends a bold colorful statement that she’s proud of where she came from. At Caribana, she says it’s a great way for other Antiguans to be able to spot her and come over and say hi. This simple umbrella has provided her with many special opportunities to meet and connect with other Antiguans who’ve also made Toronto their home, so holding it with her two children is especially symbolic.