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Cecil Foster (born September 26, 1954) is a Canadian novelist, essayist, journalist, and scholar. He is Chairman of the Department of Transnational Studies at the University of Buffalo.


Early life and educationEdit

Foster was born in Bridgetown, Barbados on 26 September 1954 to Fred and Doris Goddard.[1][2] When Foster was two years old, his parents migrated to Britain, leaving their children with relatives. The family was extremely poor; Foster remembers a childhood where there was rarely enough to eat.[3]

He emigrated to Canada in 1978.[4] Foster completed his PhD at York University in 2001.[4]


Foster began working for the Caribbean News Agency in Bridgetown as the senior reporter and editor (1975–77), and the Barbados Advocate News as the reporter and columnist (1977–79), Foster emigrated to Canada in 1979. He went on to work for the Toronto Star as a reporter (1979–82). Foster then began working for The Contrast as an editor (1979–82), Transportation Business Management as an editor (1982–83), The Globe and Mail as a reporter (1983–89), The Financial Post as a senior editor (1989), and also served as special adviser to Ontario's Ministry of Culture, through the mid-1990s. His most recent book, Where Race Does Not Matter (2004), explores the potential of multiculturalism in Canada. It also expands on some of his earlier work that deals with issues of race in his own life as well as in the history of Canada. He is well known for exploring race through immigration, and empowers this culture and beliefs through "Blacks in Action". Foster continues to bring his own personal experiences, and real-life issues to the work that he continues to produce. Island Wings: A Memoir (1998) was written as an autobiography of his own life, and is often referred to as more informative, rather than entertainment. Foster completed his PhD, a phenomenological exploration of the concept of Blackness in Canada, at York University in 2003. His philosophical influences include Hegel, Marx, Alexandre Kojève, Will Kymlicka, Charles Taylor, and former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.

Foster taught sociology at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada.[3]

He is a well-regarded novelist.[5] Foster served as a judge for the 2015 Scotiabank Giller Prize.[6]

In 2019 he published the non-fiction book They Called Me George: The Untold Story of Black Train Porters and the Birth of Modern Canada, a study of the history of Black Canadian train porters.[7]


  • No Man in the House - 1991 ISBN 0-345-38899-2[8]
  • Caribana, the Greatest Celebration - 1995 (about Caribana)
  • Sleep On, Beloved - 1995 [9]
  • A Place Called Heaven: The Meaning of Being Black in Canada - 1996
  • Slammin' Tar - 1998
  • Island Wings: A Memoir - 1998
  • Dry Bones Memories - 2001
  • Where Race Does Not Matter: The New Spirit of Modernity - 2004
  • Blackness and Modernity: The Colour of Humanity and the Quest for Freedom - 2007
  • Independence - 2014 [2]
  • They Called Me George: The Untold Story of Black Train Porters and the Birth of Modern Canada - 2019

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Who's who Among African Americans. Gale Research. 1996. p. 504. Retrieved 3 February 2019.
  2. ^ a b Nurse, Donna Bailey (14 February 2014). "Independence, by Cecil Foster: Review". National Post. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  3. ^ a b Powell, Naomi (9 February 2005). "Redefining race; University of Guelph professor Cecil Foster envisions a Canada where our values, not skin colour, define us (author profile)". Guelph Mercury. Retrieved 21 January 2019.
  4. ^ a b "Cecil Foster". University of Buffalo. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  5. ^ Gionas, Sandra (9 July 1995). "Cecil Foster's fiction focuses on female strengths (profile)". Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved 21 January 2019.
  6. ^ "The Giller Prize expands its jury to five people ", The Globe and Mail, 14 Jan 2015.
  7. ^ "Demeaned, overworked and all called George: How Black train porters transformed Canada". Toronto Star, February 1, 2019.
  8. ^ Stewart, Joyce. “Still Growing Up: Cecil Foster's ‘No Man in the House’ and Sasenarine Persaud's ‘Dear Death.’” Caribbean Studies, vol. 27, no. 3/4, 1994, pp. 447–451. JSTOR,
  9. ^ Thomas, H. Nigel. “Cecil Foster's ‘Sleep on, Beloved’: A Depiction of the Consequences of Racism in Canadian Immigration Policy.” Journal of Black Studies, vol. 38, no. 3, 2008, pp. 484–501. JSTOR,

External linksEdit