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TVO – Excerpt: Cecil Foster’s ‘They Call Me George: The Untold Story of Black Train Porters and the Birth of Modern Canada’

For years, cross-country rail travel was an integral part of Canadian identity, and Black train porters played a central role. But despite their contributions, they were treated like second-class citizens In 1891, a reporter from the New York Sun shadowed porters on the Canadian Pacific Railway transcontinental run to give readers a first-hand account of the...
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The Toronto Star – In 1954, Black train porters called on Ottawa to transform Canada into ‘a country of equality’

On April 26, 1954 a train arrived in Ottawa. Inside one of its cars: a 35-member delegation of the Negro Citizenship Association. In They Call Me George, sociology professor and novelist (Independence) Cecil Foster makes the case that the moment was exceptional, a consequential threshold-crossing episode. The men, former and current porters (popularly known as “George’s boys”...
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The Toronto Star – Demeaned, overworked and all called George: How Black train porters transformed Canada

During the golden age of North American train travel, sleeping cars often came with porters who would carry your luggage and shine your shoes. Porters were smiling, courteous and unfailingly polite; for the better part of the last century, they were also Black, male, and sometimes referred to condescendingly as “George’s boys” — or, simply,...
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The Caribbean Camera – How Black Train Porters helped to build modern Canada

Typical of books written by the evocative Bajan-Canadian author, Cecil Foster, once you pick up They Call me George: The Untold Story of Black Train Porters and the Birth of Modern Canada you just cannot put it down. Every Canadian of every ethnicity and walk of life should read this wonderful account of how Negroes, many of...
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The Globe and Mail – How black train porters helped put Canada on track

Once, a black work force kept rail travel running smoothly in Canada – and they paved the way for racial justice and economic opportunity for all. How can we remember their sacrifices? Article Link: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-how-black-train-porters-helped-put-canada-on-track/...
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Radio Canada International – The story of the Black Porters on Canadian railways

It was a unique chapter in Canadian history.  The age of rail travel blossomed in the 20th century, and along with it a need for workers aboard the trains to help the passengers, particularly those in the sleeping cars. They were almost exclusively black, and later helped change Canadian immigration law, and by extension, the shape of...
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Biblioasis – An Interview with Cecil Foster

…we’re eagerly awaiting February 5 and the Canadian publication of our first 2019 title: Cecil Foster’s They Call Me George: The Untold Story of Black Train Porters and the Birth of Modern Canada. Foster’s history documents the struggles, both individual and collective, of Black Canadians against the racist policies of their employers and their country. It was their actions, Foster argues, that laid the groundwork for the multicultural nation we know today. Incorporating the author’s own interviews with former porters and outlining the rarely-discussed institutional racism of early Canadian immigration and employment policies, They Call Me George is an indispensable read for the 21st century.

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2015 Giller Prize Jury Includes Guelph Prof, Alum

Two of the five jury panel members of Canada’s most prestigious literary award this year have University of Guelph ties. Sociology professor Cecil Foster and alumna Alison Pick were selected to the jury for the 2015 Scotiabank Giller Prize for excellence in Canadian fiction. Last year, the winner won $100,000, with each finalist receiving $10,000. This year’s...
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Introducing the Five-Member Jury Panel for the 2015 Scotiabank Giller Prize

Scotiabank Giller Prize For Immediate Release: Wednesday January 14th, 2015, 9:00 a.m. EST Introducing the Five-Member Jury Panel for the 2015 Scotiabank Giller Prize Read more

Publisher’s Weekly – Independence: Book Review

Both abandoned by their mothers to the care of their grandparents, Bajans Christopher Lucas and Stephanie King are life-long friends. Discord arrives in 1966 in the form of the predatory Mr. Lashley, who takes a disquieting interest in 14-year-old Stephanie, lavishing gifts and attention on the teenaged girl. Conversations Christopher is too inexperienced to understand...
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Featured on G98.7 FM with Fitzroy Gordon

Grapevine G98.7 FM

Grapevine on G98.7 FM with Fitzroy Gordon (Sunday February 23, 2014)

 

CBC Podcast – The Next Chapter

CBC LogoAired on February 24, 2014

 

Quill & Quire – Review of Independence

Cecil Foster was 12 years old in 1966 when Barbados gained independence from Britain. Foster’s first novel in almost a dozen years delves into the formative period of the newly liberated nation, as seen through the eyes of 13-year-old Christopher Lucas. Like his childhood friend and neighbour Stephie, Christopher is a “grandmother chile,” raised under old-fashioned...
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Welcome Back Cecil Foster

Featured Post by Heman Silochan The Caribbean Camera Newspaper - Thursday February 6th, 2014 Among the Toronto literati in the past decade or so, many asked around, where was Cecil Foster? What was he doing? Will we ever see another book? His very fine novel launched in 1992, “No Man in the House”, made him a household...
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Burlington Public Library – Meet The Author

Meet the Author, Cecil Foster

Burlington Public Library - Central Branch

Tuesday, April 15, 2014 - 07:00pm

Journalist and author, Cecil Foster joins us to discuss his latest book, "Independence", a story about a boy and a country coming of age, set in Barbados' as it gains its independence from Britain. Fourteen-year-old Christopher Lucas and Stephanie King have been...
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On the long bus ride home, when I usually revise my “to-do” list of the day, I pushed “get a set of letter stock and envelopes to write home” to the top of my list for the next day. Even with all the carry over from the days before, at the moment nothing is more important than writing back home. Somewhere between going to school, dreading getting out of bed to go to work, and bundling up against each cold day, it’s as if I’ve forgotten about my family. The calypso I play at the bus stop and warmth I remember radiating off of the sand in Barbados are lifelines up north, but I can’t remember the last time I called them. Even from the preface of Independence, the first few pages that I usually blatantly disregard, I felt guilty.

Christopher, the novel’s protagonist, and Stephanie are God siblings, neighbours, and best friends. They are also coming of age in the time of Barbados’ independence from England (1966) while their single mothers have gone “over n’ away” to North America for work. While Stephanie has already slipped into the assumption that she is more mature than she actually is, Christopher is focused on getting back in contact with his mother. During post-independence Barbados, many of the island’s young adults who went away to work slowly began to stream back in, and that’s where the bacchanal begins.

[Read More from Leslie Nicole’s Site]

http://www.leslienikole.com/2014/01/independence-cecil-foster.html

Life Not Lived – Guest Post Featured on The Saavy Reader

A few years ago my wife Sharon and I were driving along the island roads of Barbados, windows down, radio turned up. I remembered vividly the same scenes from when I was a little boy: sugar cane fields, outcrops of limestone, stands of mahogany trees, pastures where I played cricket, in the distance white sand beaches and fading blue waters. But there was also change, lots of it — a major highway, housing estates, a spanking new seaport where Oprah, Tiger Woods, and other billionaires dock their yachts.

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Dr. Foster divides his time between research, writing, and teaching, and he is a professor of sociology at the University of Guelph. For this month’s featured Oral History, he joins Paul Watkins, PhD student in English Literature, ICASP Graduate Fellow, and Toronto-based sound poet, for an informal public interview (during the 2011 Guelph Jazz Festival Colloquium) about jazz, improvisation, the writing process, and multiculturalism.

Cecil Foster in conversation with Paul Watkins

improvcommunityArticle and Interview:

http://www.improvcommunity.ca/content/cecil-foster

McGill-Queen’s University Press

A provocative look at why multiculturalism could only have originated in the Americas.
While many modern societies are noted for their diversity, the resulting challenge is to determine how citizens from different backgrounds and cultures can see themselves and each other as equals, and be treated equally. In Genuine Multiculturalism, Cecil Foster shows that a society’s failure to bridge these differences is the tragedy of modern living and that pretending it is possible to mechanically develop fraternity and solidarity among diverse groups is akin to seeking out comedy.

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