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Marjorie Jamerson

As an authentic Black Soul Food Cook, Mrs. Jamerson has been very supportive of the efforts of the Black Pioneer Descendants' Society's annual Soul Food Dinner. She has also been very influential in the life of the Society's president, Rick Jamerson. She is a wonderful grandmother to Rick and Junetta Jamerson children. Strict but loving, deeply spiritual, and the example of a strong work ethic, she is representative of the hard-working daughters and strong mothers that kept the home fires burning.

Babysitting and Whooping Cough
Marjorie Jamerson discusses her babysitting—she once looked after six children at the same time, and all of them had whooping cough.
(Running Time: 1:03)

Black Culture Shock
When Marjorie's father first had his homestead around Provost, his was the only Black family in the area. This was not a matter of concern; the family had been in the area for so long. Aside from one other Black family in nearby Macklin, Saskatchewan, there were no other Blacks in the area. Marlene shares her recollections and discusses the shock of meeting her husband's family: the first time she had ever seen so many Blacks in one place at the same time.
(Running Time: 3:16)

Marjorie's brother Doug was in the Air Force, her brother Neil was in the Army, and her brother Reggie stayed home to look after the farm.
(Running Time: 0:20)

Church Community
Marjorie became a part of the church and in particular, the Revival Centre, home of a 60-voice choir. On Sundays, there were typically three services and during the summer, there was a one-month camp with featured speakers. This was the first time, according to Marjorie, that Blacks in Edmonton got together to do something.
(Running Time: 1:34)

Cooking in Camps
Marjorie was on Social Assistance for a while, raised her daughter, and eventually worked for the government, cooking in camps and moving from place to place throughout northern Alberta. She and her bull cook used to cook for 31 men. It was hard work, but Marjorie recalls those days as fun.
(Running Time: 1:10)

Country School
Marjorie rode a horse to travel three miles to attend a one-room country school. There was a different teacher every year, and she lived in a two-room house known as a teacherage. During the summer, a pastor would come to the school, and there was also a summer camp. Marjorie shares other fond memories of her school days.
(Running Time: 3:19)

Dealing with Prejudice in Edmonton
Marjorie tells of being disliked because of her colour and provides a number of vivid examples of the racial prejudice she encountered in Edmonton.
(Running Time: 3:53)

Family Success
Marjorie's mother had many siblings, many of whom went to the United States and all of whom bettered themselves and their children.
(Running Time: 2:21)

Marjorie's father came from Barbados and served in the army in Africa. After being discharged from the army, he must have served on a whaling trip because he heard the HMS Titanic's distress call; the ship on which he was travelling was too far away to respond. After landing in Canada, he settled in Saskatoon. It was there that he met Marjorie's mother, whose family came from North Carolina to Canada by covered wagon and settled in Maidstone, Saskatchewan. After a life of farming, Marjorie's parents moved to North Battleford, Saskatchewan, and later to Vancouver, British Columbia.
(Running Time: 2:28)

From Provost to Edmonton
Marjorie moved to Edmonton and was on her own, raising two children, one of whom passed away at the age of three. At first, Marjorie disliked the city: it was too big and very frightening. This was quite a contrast from the small, rural community of Provost.
(Running Time: 0:57)

Grandma, Diabetes, and Fire
Marjorie's grandfather was a preacher who travelled by mule to deliver sermons at various churches. Her grandmother was pregnant with her ninth child when she succumbed to gestational diabetes. After her death, the remaining eight children looked after themselves with the help of their grandmother, Marjorie's great-grandmother. Marjorie's great-grandmother perished—and her aunt Moselle later died of burns she suffered—in a house fire.
(Running Time: 2:10)

High School in Provost
High school in Provost was challenging at first; there were so many grades in one school, and there were many different teachers with different ideas. The bus trip covered a distance of 20 miles (32 kilometres). The half-mile walk to catch the bus was difficult, particularly during the winter when the field was covered in snow and very cold. The curling team on which Marjorie played during high school won second challenge. Marjorie completed the tenth grade; she left school to get married.
(Running Time: 1:47)

Learning to Cook — Oil Rigs
Marjorie learned to cook from her mother, and she and a friend worked as cooked with the oil rigs before being hired as camp cooks by Alberta Transportation.
(Running Time: 1:13)

Learning Tolerance
There were few Blacks in Edmonton during Marjorie's youth. It is not nearly as difficult now as it was when she first came to Edmonton: people outwardly showed disdain whereas today, they know the importance of education, tolerance, and acceptance. Legislation condemns discrimination, and this has had a positive effect: children today have a different mentality and are taught to embrace diversity.
(Running Time: 1:58)

Marjorie's grandmother was a slave; her family is not far removed from slavery and came to Maidstone, Saskatchewan. Marjorie's mother and aunt, Beatrice, settled in Saskatoon. It was there that Marjorie's parents first met.
(Running Time: 1:44)

Racism at School
When Marjorie was in high school, some of her schoolmates were inclined to call her names, but she was strong and resisted. She also experienced racial discrimination when applying for work and when looking for housing. Her daughter, too, was subjected to racism during high school and often came home in tears.
(Running Time: 2:53)

Selling the Family Farm
Marjorie's father, who had a quarter section of land, sold the family farm to the neighbours. Years later, when Marjorie's family went to visit the land, there was an oil well in the middle of the yard. Unfortunately, Marjorie's father did not have mineral rights to the farm.
(Running Time: 0:39)

Siblings and Farming
Marjorie's family was quite poor and had pulled up a granary to live in. It was not insulated and very cold. The family had a binder, harrow, and moor, all pulled by horses. Marjorie and her brothers Neil, Doug, and Reggie had to stook in the fields. Neil joined the Army, Doug joined the Air Force, and Reggie looked after the farm.
(Running Time: 2:21)

Slave Mentality
All of Marjorie's mother's sisters came with her from North Carolina to Canada. Her mother, one generation from slavery, was likely still somewhat consumed by fear when she came to Canada and referred to herself and to her sisters as “tarheels.” It was not uncommon for Blacks—particularly those descended of slaves—to be fearful of Whites and for Whites to think of Blacks as one level above monkeys. These are just some manifestations of the slave mentality.
(Running Time: 2:11)

Soul Food
Marjorie was the cook at the first Soul Food Dinner. This was difficult for her because she knew nothing about soul food; she'd only ever cooked Canadian cuisine. Nevertheless, she learned to cook the items on the menu: fried chicken, collard greens, Hoppin' John, (a mixture of black-eyed peas and rice with red and green peppers, onion, and spices), sweet potato pie, peach cobbler, different salads, and so on. It was a lot of work for two cooks to prepare food for over 100 people.
(Running Time: 1:33)

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