Exhibition telling stories of remarkable migrants at Market Gallery in Toronto

By Neil Armstrong

A new exhibition in the Market Gallery – once Toronto’s first purpose-built City Council Chambers at St Lawrence Market – is sharing the stories of six individuals “who arrived, stayed, and flourished in Toronto.”

“Migrant Stories” sheds light on “the challenges, triumphs and resilience of those who have overcome adversity to call Toronto home.” It is presented by the City of Toronto in partnership with Frankfurt, Germany, as an initiative that goes beyond borders, offering a unique perspective on migration from both a local and global lens. The six individuals featured in the exhibition that runs until May 5 are Augusto Bitter, Eric Chengyang, Ahmed Moneka, Diana Contreras, Ebraheem Kanaan, and Lloyd Lindo – all seen on video telling their stories.

Lloyd Lindo

Lindo travelled to Canada from the United Kingdom in 1964 — after living in the United States and returning to Jamaica before relocating to England.

Guest curator Wendy Vincent who is responsible for the installation about “Uncle Lloyd” as she affectionately calls him says the Jamaican British Canadian who lives in Amaranth, Dufferin County, Ontario, will celebrate his 97th birthday in April.

He was one of many migrants who left Jamaica and other Caribbean countries to help rebuild England after World War 2.

Lloyd Lindo Suitcase

“They first arrived aboard the HMS Windrush ship in Tilbury Docks, England, United Kingdom on June 21, 1948. This arrival date symbolizes a defining era of migration, and the foundation of postwar Britain, where over half a million Caribbean Commonwealth citizens, known as “The Windrush Generation”, relocated to Britain between 1948 and 1973,” notes the exhibit.

Reflecting on his journey, Lindo immigrated to England from Jamaica to join his older brother, Roy, who helped to secure training for him as a welder and employment at Heathrow Airport, then called London Airport.

As children in Jamaica, the brothers, who have five siblings, experienced kinship adoption after their father died. They were sent from “urban Kingston to live in rural Trelawny with their maternal grandmother, who served as both a matriarch and a maven as she was a Black woman who owned property and managed staff in Jamaica from the 1930s onward.”

Today, Roy, 99, and a younger sister, live in Florida, but the brothers speak regularly and maintain close contact with family members.

Wendy Vincent

For Vincent, everything aligned to make her curation of “Uncle Lindo’s” story possible. They are not related, but the Lindos are close friends of her family and in typical Jamaican style are called “auntie” and “uncle.”

Lindo met his wife, “Auntie Louise,” now deceased, at Vincent’s aunt’s house in England, they were married at Balham Congregational Church on March 29, 1958; when Vincent’s parents and brother, Donovan, came to Canada from England, Lindo helped her father, Herbert, to secure a job at Canadian General Electric; and Herbert helped to build Lindo’s house in Orangeville, Ontario, and did all the electrical work on the property.

When her father died, Vincent mused with Nick Davis, a Jamaican and the executive director of equity and inclusion at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), about Lindo being an engaging and prolific storyteller. Davis encouraged her to record his memories.

“Last year, when the Windrush 75th anniversary came up, that was when I knew the right opportunity was live to share a part of Uncle Lloyd’s story in the new cycle. The hours of recorded conversations together had a home.”

Vincent shared his story with Cheryl Blackman, director of museums and heritage services at the City of Toronto, who had the migrant storytelling project with Frankfurt happening very soon.

Vincent was able to secure an award-winning film crew by way of her cousin, Kevin Barton, and captured video.

Lindo lives with his daughter, Laurianne, in Dufferin County and his grandson lives nearby; he has family in Ottawa and relatives around the world.