Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Dr. Stephanie D. Bangarth


Notwithstanding First Nations peoples, Canada is a nation of immigrants. As a settler colony, the French and English charter immigrant “solitudes” created a paradigm of “White Canada” nation-building defined by exclusionary and hypocritical immigration policies. Canada was a “White man’s country” built by non-Whites on the stolen lands of colonized Aboriginal peoples, where discriminatory anti-Black immigration policy, particularly during the early twentieth century up to the immigration policy reforms of the 1960s, was designed to restrict and prohibit the entry of Black Barbadians and Black West Indians. The Canadian state capitalized on the public’s fear of the “Black unknown” and the negative codification of Black identity and used illogical fallacies such as climate “unsuitability” to justify the exclusion of Black Barbadians and West Indians.

This dissertation challenges the perception that Blacks were simply victims of a racist and discriminatory Canadian and international migration paradigm as it emphasizes the agency and educational capital of Black Barbadian emigrants during the mid-twentieth century. Utilizing extensive archival research at the Barbados National Archives (BNA), this dissertation argues that overpopulation, upward social mobility, and a highly educated population facilitated emigration off the Island between the late nineteenth century and 1967. This argument challenges Dawn I. Marshall, Alan B. Simmons and Jean Pierre Guengant’s theory of a Caribbean “culture-of-migration,” where West Indians migrated due to inherited and unconscious cultural attributes to fulfill the innate need and desire for exodus in the structured, racialized, and oppressive international migration system. By creating the concept of the “Autonomous Bajan” and the “Emigrant Ambassador,” this dissertation argues that Blacks and most notably Black women, with the assistance of their Barbadian Government through educational reforms in the early twentieth century and sponsored emigration schemes since the late nineteenth century, found autonomous agency and challenged Canadian immigration policies designed to exclude Black West Indians. This dissertation utilizes the intersectionality of race, gender, and class, and how it both restricted and facilitated the emigration of Black Barbadians and West Indians during this period.