Alicia Marshall – Notable West Indian by Jamaican Products

Alicia Marshall is featured as the notable West Indian for March 2016. The stories of those featured will be told in the form of an interview.

Alicia is a born organiser, so let’s hear Alicia tell her story.

Alicia Marshall
Alicia Marshall

I’d like to know a little about you. When did you arrive in Australia and what influenced your decision to live in Australia?
I was born in Barbados in and arrived in New Zealand, being approximately one and a half years of age. New Zealand was meant to be a stop-over on our way to Australia. 12 years later; in 1978 our parents and us 3 children boarded a plane for Australia. Dad’s nickname in New Zealand was “Aussie”. It was always his dream to live here. He strongly believed, no matter where you lived, you must assimilate. Be a part of it. Celebrate the heritage, abide by the laws of the land, etc. So we all happily became Australian Citizens.

How did you get involved in the West Indian Community?
I was always in a West Indian Community of some sort, as both my parents, David and Alice Marshall where involved in the “West Indian Society” in New Zealand.

Dad in Blue Stars Steel Band (front)
Dad in Blue Stars Steel Band (front)

When arriving in Australia, Dad gathered a few West Indians and formed the “The Caribbean Association”. He asked me to design and paint a logo that would represent all of the Islands. So I painted on canvas, “The Caribbean Association”, with a picture of the “Steel Pans”. The whole of The Caribbean are known for their Steel Pans. What a beautiful, magical sound they have!

During this time, I also remember The Caribbean Association Committee held a picnic at the Botanical Gardens in Brisbane and The Courier Mail came along to interview and report on the event. A picture showing the long conga line with Dad and Alvin holding up the banner was also published. It was well received by Australians and other nationalities who decided to join in the line.

Growing up as part of the association was wonderful. Committee Members organised wonderful picnics, food, dances, parties, bands, cricket teams etc. I and the other children inherited all these wonderful Honorary Aunts and Uncles, who I just love dearly. Because of them, I have many fond memories that I hold deep in my heart always. I couldn’t have had a better childhood with wonderful mentors. Very blessed!

I’m not sure how, but sadly through time, our busy lives or whatever; the Club came to an end.

How did you come to organise the picnics that you arrange every year?

Mom - Alice Marshall
Mom – Alice Marshall

Mum had returned from Barbados for Christmas 2006. We decided to organize a picnic to catch up with all those we had lost touch with. No Club or Association. No Fees, just a picnic that could reconnect people. It was so wonderful seeing everyone after such a long time.

We had great feedback and a lot of people were asking for another picnic. So, we decided to organise a West Indian Picnic celebrating all of the Caribbean Islands twice a year. We currently have a private contact list of approximately 200 people. Mum is a big inspiration and helps with it all. And we’d like to mention that The Rivercity Steel Band is a great support at our picnics also.

There are many West Indians living here. There are also many clubs/associations that include: “CaribOz” in Sydney, “CaribVic” in Victoria, “Caribbean Australian Association” in Perth, and connections in other States. There are also a lot of Steel Bands here in Australia.
We are happy to hear of West Indian Eateries, Business’s, Jump Up Parties and upcoming events here in Queensland. We encourage you to notify us, see contact details below, so we can broadcast the news. We celebrate news of all peoples from the various Caribbean Islands.

What feature of the West Indian Life do you think Australia could adopt?
West Indians take themselves seriously when required to but make light of mishaps. So I would say humour. They have a way of looking at a bad situation and turning it into a laughable story that entertains you and makes your troubles seem light. One thing you can count on is a good sense of humour. Oh, and the food. Lots of herbs and spices and chilli’s. It’s all so delicious.

What feature of Australian Life do you think West Indians could adopt?
Well I think, growing up here, I can say the same of Australians. They don’t take themselves too seriously if it is a mishap. Likewise, they like a good laugh. And like West Indians, they are happy to dig in and help each other. The Brisbane 2011 floods were a great example that was witnessed around the entire world. Mateship, I love it!

Tell us about a funny cross cultural experience you’ve had?
I remember as a child going camping with a big group of West Indians, approximately 100 of us. A bunch of us West Indian children amongst other children were playing on a push-merry-go-round, having heaps of fun spinning around. One boy asked why we speak different to him, and asked where we were from. We told him that we came from the West Indies and he said in all of his innocence, “I never knew there where West Indians; I thought there were only Red Indians and Yellow Indians, like in the movies”.

Mom and Dad at Greek Club
Mom and Dad at Greek Club

It was so funny, we laughed and told him about it. He was really surprised and genuinely interested and pleased to have learnt something. He kept coming back each day to see us all.

How has your family contributed to your success?
Like many people, I feel I have the best Family ever. My family and my close friends are encouraging, supportive, helpful, wise, and great to be with. No matter how long it is since I’ve last seem them, it feels like we’ve never been apart. Their mere presence uplifts me.

Thank you Alicia. I enjoyed your story.
You’re very welcome Hope. It’s been wonderful to chat.

If you’d like to know of the next event then send Alicia an email: [email protected]


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