Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Geography & Environmental Studies


Faculty of Arts

First Advisor

Robert Sharpe

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


The main purpose of this study is to examine the extent to which traditional models of the migration decision making process adequately account for and describe the decision making process of black West Indian immigrants in Canada. Traditional models of the migration decision making process have suggested that individuals migrate after a rational comparison of place utilities (Wolpert, 1964; Roseman, 1971). These human capital models of migration (De Jong et al, 1981) suggest that individuals, acting in a very rational manner, seek always to maximize their “profits” at an optimum location. However, this study suggests that in the case of the black West Indian migrant potential migrants are not undertaking such an unemotional, calm and rational comparison of place utilities. Rather, it would appear that the decision to migrate is often based on a commonly held notion that migration is the best, inevitable and perhaps only option to be considered by large sections of the population. It would appear that in many cases long before the actual opportunity to migrate presents itself, many black West Indians have already decided that they will eventually leave the Caribbean. The main methodology employed here is a case study of the experiences of five black West Indian immigrants in Canada. Aspects of black West Indians culture such as music, literature and history are also examined to demonstrate the extent to which migration has become a major institution within the Caribbean. The institutionalisation of migration within the Caribbean therefore appears to influence individuals to such a degree that many are loathed to consider any other alternative. Evidence from the case studies appears to confirm the notion that traditional models of migratory behavior have failed to take into account the crucial role of cultural influences in migration decision making. Such a failure ignores a crucial element in any attempt to understand the migration of black West Indians.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season