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Meet Joyce

"I involve myself in every little way I can."
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My name is Joyce King.

I was born December 27th 1929 and I came here from

Georgetown Guyana.

It is the only English speaking country in South America.

I came on August 16th 1969.

I lived on Canada street , in a rented house

and I was pregnant when I came.

I had my 6th baby at St Joseph hospital.

My sister is who immigrated us to Canada,

she was living in Canada and she was a nurse

at St Joseph Hospital.

And when the baby was born, you just come,

you didn't have any insurance or anything.

So she went to Mr Landham in charge of St Joseph

and told him what the situation was

and asked him please to give me a job.

And he did that.

I worked at St Joseph's for 25 years and retired from there.

My first impression it was huge, big, you know,

everything looked different.

But still it wasn't overwhelming.

And everybody had a smile on their face and

you know when I see a black person on the other side of

the street I'm looking to see if it's somebody I know.

So, you kind of miss that, but then

it works itself out.

It was very good, it wasn't challenging.

I know some people maybe come and they got problems

with integrating, but I never had.

Maybe, I don't know why the neighbours, they all took to me

right away and I took to them.

And because I was working at the hospital

I was meeting people and it was great.

There is one little joke I must tell you about

the hospital going to work

I'm accustom, the sun is shining,

and we came in August, it was nice weather.

It was the end of November and I was still wearing my

plain uniform going to work.

And I am feeling chilly.

And want to know if the sun is so bright, why am I cold?

Then I got to work the girls said, Joyce where's your coat?

Then it hit me, I should be wearing a coat.

I said it's ok I feel good, I'm just enjoying the cold.

But I never did that again. (laughs)

Hamilton was very good to me,

and I was very good for Hamilton.

I involved myself in, in every little way I can, you know,

and I have a wide variety of friends.

Canada Day started with just one neighbour.

I'm going over to her, have something to eat,

have something to drink, and our kids were the same age.

And the kids were riding their bikes.

And the two of us, it was just the two of us, and then quite

suddenly one year

other neighbours started to put out their tables

and have their family come over, to them.

And it gradually came into one, at me, at my house.

So I used to go up and sing.

My first one I sang was Frank Sinatra's My Way.

(laughs) That's my favorite.

And we've been doing that for over thirty years,

we've been celebrating Canada Day, all the time.

The neighbours usually say Canada Day is my day.


My name is Joyce King.

Hamilton is an ambitious city, and it means home to me.

Joyce or "Auntie Joyce" immigrated from Georgetown, Guyana in August 1969. At age 92, she is the matriarch of Canada Street. 

Joyce founded the neighbourhood’s Canada Day party over 50 years ago and leads over 100 friends and neighbours singing "O Canada" to open the event. She usually performs a song, dances or leads everyone in an aerobic workout for the talent show. Presiding over all the activities of the day, Joyce makes sure that everyone feels welcomed and included, whether a friend or anyone who has wandered through. This example captures only the tiniest fraction of what this vibrant, active, strong, kind, immigrant woman means to people in the neighbourhood and the Hamilton community at large. 

Now retired, Joyce served the community at St. Joseph's Hospital as a Care Attendant for 26 years. She loves her grandchildren一those born to her and those drawn to her一and, loves telling the stories that knot together the fabric of her family and the community. She might break into a song, or show you treasured heirlooms from her colourful life here in Canada. She might also offer you a shot of Sherry. One never knows with Joyce.

Migration Context: 

Immigration Diversification

Until the 1960s, racial and ethnic criteria were used in immigrant selection, as evidenced in selection principles that favoured the preservation of “the fundamental composition of the Canadian population” (predominantly British and northern European) and, more explicitly, restrictions on Black and Asian immigration. In 1967, Canada shifted its selection criteria for independent immigrants to a “points system” that assessed applicants based on education, training, language, and age. 

The 1976 Immigration Act explicitly prohibited discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, or gender. The Act also emphasized the importance of family reunification, international obligations to refugees and displaced persons, and the need to tailor immigration to Canada’s economic and demographic needs. 

The federal government opened new immigration offices in the Caribbean and Asia, and immigration began to diversify. Within two decades, about two-thirds of the country’s immigrants were coming from “non-traditional” source countries in the Global South. 

These demographic shifts were also seen in Hamilton, with increasing immigration from southern Europe and beyond. The 1971 census found that 30 percent of Hamilton’s population was foreign-born.

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