Tales from the 2.9 — The Black Canadians Sharing their Stories in a Digital Age — Vol. 2 #11, Rhonda Thompson(-Wilson), Board Treasurer, Winnipeg Black History Month Celebration

An interesting part of Tales from the 2.9 is the interesting people my (potential) contributors introduce me to as we go. I’m not so ignorant to believe that Black Canadian narratives exist in Toronto alone—no matter HOW much we consider ourselves the centre of the universe—so I need the help of others to build bridges with those who live farther away than a few subway stops or so.

One of these people is Rhonda Thompson(-Wilson) of Winnipeg, Manitoba, someone Natalie introduced me to when writing the series up last year. And ever since then I’ve seen her passion for Black culture, going as far as to run a series of events each year for Black History Month—a tradition currently in its 36th year running with no signs of stopping!

In her entry, Rhonda takes the opportunity to examine her life as a Black Canadian at multiple points in time from her childhood days where the few Black families in Winnipeg still felt quite connected, to present day, where she still faces overt racism in an age where we swear it’s over.

If you want an interesting story with plenty of insight, search no further—Rhonda’s thoughts will put you in her shoes, possibly bringing you one step closer to understanding what life can be like as one of the 2.9%!

Enjoy the read!

–case p.

What does being Black Canadian mean to you?

I knew I was Black and born in Canada, but when I was younger and anyone asked me “Where are you from”, I always felt like I had to tell them that my family was from Jamaica. Most times when I was asked the “Where are you from” question, it was followed up with, “No, where are you FROM?” because the assumption was that Black people were not Canadian by birth, not at that time anyways. I related much more with my Caribbean linkage then with the country of my birth. Even to this day, I still find myself giving more significance to my parent’s homeland than to my own.

Living in a larger Canadian city, we are blessed with a large Black population (relative to many smaller cities/towns) so we are afforded the opportunity to feel at ease and congregate with others from a similar cultural background and share stories of the racial tensions we face as a people. Sadly, not all Black Canadians have that privilege.