MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica – A DNA test for her job as CNN anchor has led Michaela Pereira of Canada to Cambridge in St. James, Jamaica to unearth her genealogical roots
“I was adopted as an infant in Canada and I always knew that one part of my heritage came from Jamaica,” she related. But she was unsure of how the connection came about. “I didn’t know if one of my parents was Canadian-Jamaica or Jamaican-Jamaica,” she said.
Now living in New York, USA, and working with CNN, she needed to do a DNA test for her job and an idea emerged. “We decided to tell the story of each of our anchors that present on air and we discovered that my roots on my paternal side came from Jamaica, but specifically from Cambridge, St. James.”
With the curiosity of Alex Haley (author of the book ‘Roots’), Mrs. Pereira decided she wanted “to connect with my roots.” That decision led her to Jamaica, supported by her husband and a film crew, and a journey to Cambridge in south St. James. She said her visit was aimed at “really looking to connect with my ancestors, place and time and contacts.”
Mrs. Pereira and her film crew did not find anyone alive who could be identified as a direct family member, but she did find some graves that offered a link with her past and she has “learnt so many interesting facts” about Jamaica.
Prior to her departure, Mrs. Pereira paid a courtesy call on Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, the Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill, on Saturday (July 19), at the Half Moon, A Rock Resort, and was presented with a hardbound copy of the book, “Jamaica Heritage in Pictures” produced by the Jamaica National Heritage Trust and which captures captivating images of Jamaica.
“This is my first visit to Jamaica, and I’m ashamed to say that,” she admitted, but hastened to add, “I’m here now and I can come back as many times as I want.”
Mrs. Pereira ended her four-day visit on Sunday having learned many things and praising the Jamaican people. “First of all, the thing that has struck me the most, everyone without fail; rich, poor; black, white; young old, have said welcome home and it makes me cry.
“The second thing I have learned is how beautiful and warm and welcoming Jamaicans are. Everywhere I’ve gone they greet you with a smile and a hug – and not just me, there are five people travelling with me and they welcomed everybody as if they were a member of the family. We leave with new friends,” she said beaming.
So overwhelming has been the welcome she received, Mrs. Pereira said, “I don’t feel like someone who came to visit Jamaica; I feel like Jamaican emphatically.”
Minister McNeill said “I found Mrs. Pereira’s visit very interesting and was pleased that she regarded what she has found to be so amazing. We welcome her home to Jamaica with open arms.”