Message from founding member Zola Curling
Arriving in Canada in the 1960′s as a young child is quite a different experience. I had to develop dual cultureship (if there is such a word) immediately because at home you were experiencing the Jamaican culture with your parents especially in terms of the cuisine and the language. At school you were being indoctrinated into the Canadian culture. All through elementary and high school I was the sale person from my culture in my classes. By now you have probably figured out that my culture is Jamaican ( the best and the most unique in the world).
It was in June of 1977 that I met the leader and founder of “The Heritage Singers” at the birthday party of the child of a mutual friend. If you know Grace you know that she is always wearing her recruiting hat. She heard me humming a tune from music that was playing in the background and before I knew it she had enlisted me and as they say the rest is history. I have been a member of the group since then. Grace had a great vision for this group and I think that this evening you can see that the vision has been realized.
I was happy for the opportunity to get back in touch with my culture to learn certain things that I was missing out on after not growing up in Jamaica. I was fairly adept at speaking “Patois” but to speak it and to read it are two different things. I had a very old book that was written by the Honourable Louise Bennett Coverley which contained a poem called “Miss Mary Dry Foot Bwoy” which I always found to be very humorous. Many days I read this poem over and over in order to practice my language.
It has been a great pleasure to be part of this organization. This affiliation has certainly kept me in touch with my culture and it has afforded me the opportunity to travel the world in order to spread an awareness of my culture and also to bridge cultural gaps. I have met a lot of great people, some of whom have become my friends. I have enjoyed seeing the joy that our craft has brought to different people and I have experienced great joy in being able to express myself culturally.
This experience is also bridging generational gaps as I have been able to impart my culture to my own children who will then do the same to their children.