A Place Called Heaven: The Meaning of Being Black in Canada


325 pages
Contains Index
ISBN 0-00-638028-X
DDC 305.896'071




Reviewed by Joseph Leydon

Joseph Leydon teaches geography at the University of Toronto.


A Place Called Heaven draws upon the author’s personal experiences and
interviews with prominent black leaders to argue that racism—
particularly as manifested in the justice system and in the media—is
rampant. The book, which would have been more accurately subtitled Black
West Indian Experience in Canada, offers some interesting arguments but
abounds with contradictions. For example, Foster maintains that the
political system is determined to keep blacks powerless while at the
same time conceding that many West Indian blacks cannot vote because
they have not taken out Canadian citizenship. His position on
integration and separation is ambiguous. His seeming advocacy of black
economic power within the context of separation is undermined by his
insistence that blacks enter the mainstream in order to gain power and

Perhaps the book’s biggest flaw is that it presents the black
immigrant experience as unique. Even a cursory study of the vast
literature on the immigrant experience in Canada would, in fact, reveal
many interesting parallels.


Foster, Cecil., “A Place Called Heaven: The Meaning of Being Black in Canada,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 20, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/5631.