CD’s Story

Hi, I’m CD,

I was raised in Montserrat, a small Caribbean island that is located in the Lesser Antilles of the West Indies. Montserrat is east of Puerto Rico. I came to Canada in 1989 because of Hurricane Hugo that destroyed approximately 98% of the housing.

Initially my aunt and uncle from Toronto came to bring a cousin of mine to Canada. I didn’t even know about him. He was denied a passport because he refused to cut his dreadlocks. So, my aunt and uncle who I didn’t know had a paid ticket. My aunt remembered that her late brother had a son and they tracked me down. That is how I got to Canada at the age of 20.

I went straight to work in a factory that made plastic containers. The company offered to pay for successful completion of college courses. I had finished high school in Montserrat and still struggled with reading, writing and spelling. In Montserrat, I worked for a couple of years for a company called Cable and Wireless.

In Toronto, I was able to complete college courses in Machine Shop Practices, Blueprint Reading, and Auto Cad, even though I still struggled with reading writing and spelling. I married my lovely wife Joy who lived in Kitchener and I commuted to Toronto for over ten years. I now work closer to home at Safety Kleen in Breslau, blending various grades of oils. I was always struggling with reading, writing and spelling.

At work, there are always training courses that we all have to complete, such as First Aid, CPR, WMIS. These always made me break out in a sweat, fearing that I would embarrass myself in front of my work mates. The way I work around these situations is to work in class twice as hard as anyone else, and to concentrate and memorize everything the instructors said.
Everything that entered my ears stayed inside my head. I felt uncomfortable at work because of my weak vocabulary and use of grammar. Also, when I read to my children, they would notice mistakes and call me out on them.

These problems had the effect of lowering my self-esteem, and from time to time I would get a bit depressed. Joy was my strength. She came with me on any appointments that might require me to fill out forms for doctors, schools, licenses, etc. I did not have the confidence to do these things myself.

Joy kept encouraging me that I could do better and that I should do something about my literacy problems. She actually went through the phone book, called the Literacy Group, and made an appointment with Sue Damon.

After the assessment of my strengths and weaknesses, Sue set me up with tutoring sessions with Bill. In the two years that I have been with the Literacy Group I have seen tremendous improvement in my speaking, reading and writing. I have a lot more confidence that I can improve and go even further. I am not the only one who has noticed these improvements. My family has noticed the changes, and even some of my coworkers have mentioned that something has changed for the better. I would like to thank Bill for his support and taking the time to help me achieve my goals. I would also like to thank the great staff at the Literacy Group for their support and encouragement. I am most thankful for my wife’s encouragement and her belief in my ability to improve my literacy skills. I personally know the shame that one feels, trying to hide his or her lack of literacy.

I would encourage anyone in such a situation to not be afraid to take that first step through the door of the Literacy Group. Once you are aware that there is nothing to be ashamed of you realize that you can do anything that you put your mind to.

I would like to thank you all for listening to me this evening. Please, if you know of anyone who may be struggling with literacy challenges, try your best to encourage them to get some help from the Literacy Group.

Coming to the Literacy Group was one of the best decisions of my life.