Memories of how fund helped a new arrival to Victoria in 1950s

Desmond Lindo still recalls his first Christmas in Victoria.

It was 1957 and Lindo was 18 and newly arrived from Jamaica to start a life in Canada. But his mother, already in Victoria for about a year, was experiencing money problems. So her name was on the list for The Daily Colonist 500 Fund, begun the previous year with the goal of helping 500 families.

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“So my very first Christmas in Canada I had that package delivered right to my Victoria doorstep,” said Lindo, who now lives in Courtenay with his wife. “It was full of Christmas goodies.”

Lindo, 78, shared his story after phoning the Times Colonist with a donation for the Times Colonist Christmas Fund, the successor to the 500 Fund, saying he decided it was only right to give back. He has also been a subscriber to the paper since his arrival.

He explained that back in the 1950s, his mother had become ostracized from his father’s family in Jamaica. With no remaining close family and little chance at getting work, she decided to move to Canada.

Lindo, whose aunt had paid the fees for him to go to school, was working in a bank, which meant he was able to borrow money to send his mother, younger brother and two younger sisters to Victoria, which his mother had heard described as “the tropics of Canada.”

He stayed in Jamaica for about a year and worked to pay off the cost of the fares, and save his own fare.

But after arriving in Victoria, Lindo learned that his mother, who had little education, had bought a house, signing papers for mortgages and second mortgages. She soon had debt collectors at the door.

Luckily, Lindo managed to find work quickly with the provincial government. Describing himself as a lifelong learner, he took courses in a variety of subjects over the years. He now applies himself full-time as a humour writer.

He taught his mother to read and write. Before she died in 1984, Lindo said, he and his mother collaborated on a book, soliciting articles from established B.C. authors and arranging them in one volume.

“She managed to earn a measure of respect,” said Lindo. “She did all right after arriving in Victoria, although she struggled initially with a period of poverty.”

The Times Colonist Christmas Fund continues to help people in need.

Christmas Fund volunteers work with the Salvation Army and the Mustard Seed Street Church to fill as many hampers and provide as many gift certificates as possible. Money raised also assists the Mustard Seed annual Christmas dinner, feeding more than 1,000 guests.

rwatts@timescolonist.com


HOW TO DONATE

To donate, go to timescolonist.com/donate. The site is open 24 hours a day and provides an immediate tax receipt.

Or mail a cheque to the Times Colonist Christmas Fund, 2621 Douglas St., Victoria, B.C. V8T 4M2. Make the cheque payable to the Times Colonist Christmas Fund Society.

Or use a credit card by phoning 250-995-4438. Call between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., Monday to Friday. Outside those times, you can leave a message and your call will be returned.

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