The incident which took place on the ninth floor of Sir George Williams University, Canada, in February 1969 still carries mixed emotions among Trinidadians. For some, it was an event which should not be mentioned, or at least discussed as quickly in the same breath as it was raised. For others, it was an event that represented a time of resistance. For others, it was just an event that occurred without knowing or understanding the underlying tensions that existed. This was a generation of Caribbean people who seemed to have been swept under the rug.
The event is a sensitive one. A riot took place after six Caribbean students, among them Trinidadians, protested against institutional racism. The students believe their failure at a computer exam was as the result of prejudiced lecturer. Their protest snowballed into two weeks of chaos and violence, with riot police storming the occupied ninth floor, and a storm of computer cards came raining down onto the streets below.
Now it has become a film, titled Ninth Floor. Film producer Selwyn Jacob, a Trindadian who resides in Canada, felt the need to tell the story, linking the sequence of events. As a result, he presents different perspectives on what took place. The film was meant to be an opportunity to seek clarification as to what really happened on that fateful day.
The irony is Jacob was in Canada when the incident happened. He was a student but he was not aware or involved in the happenings at that time.