A Glimpse of Hope for 3 Families

 

                                       Niagara on the Lake Local , January 6, 2024 

Thanks to local residents, the year ended with a glimpse of hope and comfort for three Jamaican families. 

The goal of an online fundraiser held in December was to provide one month of groceries to three families whose lives were drastically impacted by the deaths of 2 fathers and a permanent injury to another while on the seasonal farm work program. 

The families of 31-year-old Kemar Campbell and 34-year-old Daniel Brown, two coworkers who passed away in their sleep, are the first two fundraiser recipients. Kemar’s daughter celebrated her first birthday recently and was only 4 months old when her father left for the farm work program in spring. Daniel leaves behind two young daughters, a four-year-old and a baby daughter who was born a few weeks before he was to return home in September. Kemar and Daniel were coworkers on the same work crew and would often connect about the joys of fatherhood and the worries of family separation.

When KerriAnn answered her door and saw a stranger offering an envelope she had no idea it would be the first piece of good news since the loss of her partner 8 months ago. 

A typical day for her involves getting her toddler up and ready for daycare at 5 am before heading to work. When Kemar was alive she could budget properly and count on his support for necessities. 

KerriAnn has received no support from the Jamaican or Canadian government agencies that administer the farm work program since his death in early May,2023.

Kaniesha understands KerriAnn’s trials well. Grieving the loss of her husband while raising a toddler and a newborn without his emotional and financial support has often been overwhelming. When she received an unexpected phone call in December explaining the fundraiser it was a comfort to learn that people in our community cared.

The third fundraiser recipient was the family of Jeleel Stewart, who was permanently injured on the job at a local nursery in 2008. Suffering from severed tendons and nerves in his hand has prevented him from working for the past 15 years, resulting in the severe decline of his health. He has remained in hospital for the past 3 months, an incredible hardship for his wife and children. The entire family has suffered since WSIB cut off compensation and therapy due to the agency’s deeming policy in 2010. 

The three families were very grateful to receive the money and expressed the thoughts summed up by KerriAnn – “ I want to express my deepest gratitude for your generous monetary contribution during this difficult time of loss. Your support means a great deal to me and my family, and it provides a comforting reminder of the kindness that surrounds us. Thank you for your thoughtful gesture; it has truly touched our hearts.”

“Seasonal farm workers from Mexico and the Caribbean are our neighbours and friends. As a caring community we cannot simply dispose of them. That care extends to families back in their home countries that are suffering as a result of their employment in Niagara,” says Jane Andres who organized the fundraiser. “The plight of families whose breadwinners have suffered injury or death on local farms is inextricably linked to our own history.”

*Names of family members have been changed to respect their privacy.