The wave of immigrants who came to Canada in the 1960s established many businesses and organizations, which have not progressed to another level by their children.
Those of us born in the 1960s and 70s have become doctors, CEOs and executive directors, and should be proud about that. But, unlike the generation prior, we lacked a “higher purpose”, a collective objective that would benefit the community that we cannot accomplish alone.
Consequently, many of our community’s collective accomplishments can only be attributed to those who are 60 years old and older, and very few to those younger.
My parents’ generation had a higher purpose. They left their countries of birth in the 1960s with very little money in their pocket, but armed with a determination to succeed. They were soldiers in a battle against intense racism, a harsh climate and a society that reluctantly welcomed them.
There was a collective responsibility to help their family by sending money and barrels full of food and clothing “back home”. There was also a collective duty to succeed in Canada by getting a job, establish organizations, build businesses, create newspapers, etc.
In essence, their higher purpose was to establish the building blocks for a better future for their children born in Canada and for their family back in the Caribbean. Everything would point to that objective being reasonably accomplished.
But what did the next generation do with this momentum? Eglinton Avenue remains the strip of barbershops, hair salons and restaurants that it was 20 years ago rather than expanding to be a hub of economic communal prosperity with community-owned credit unions and shopping centres.
The majority of our community organizations remain largely the same as they did 20 years ago. Rather than expanding their fund-raising efforts online with Indiegogo, reaching people on a world-wide scale with podcasts or blogs and posting YouTube videos, the 25-year-old ideas that their parents’ generation created, largely remain their primary means to raise money. In this decade of hurricane-like change, our community cannot afford to remain stagnant with ideas of the past and must be more forward thinking.
The generation born in the 1960s prospered financially, got well-paying jobs and achieved success as individuals, but contributed little of substance to communal advancement. The next stage of our business development should have been shopping centres, not event promotion.
The next stage of development for our community organizations should have been the ownership of buildings and expansion of community services.
With all the intellect, education and monetary resources available, it astonishes me why this natural progression has not happened. The only reason I can come up with is my parents and their generation gave their sons and daughters everything they could, except a higher purpose beyond themselves.
By ROBERT SMALL