Five Jamaicans in Canada Receive Prestigious Harry Jerome Award


Drs. Ouida and Leebert Wright were among five Jamaicans, who recently received the prestigious Harry Jerome Award, presented by the Canadian-based Black Business and Professional Association (BBPA).
The retired couple received the Lifetime Achievement Award for their accomplishments as educator and scientist, respectively, at the BBPA’s 25th annual gala held at the Toronto Congress Centre.
The other Jamaicans honoured were: former Speaker of the Ontario Legislature, Dr. Alvin Curling, who received the Trailblazer Award; 18-year-old gymnast, Brittnee Habbib, who received the Athletics Award and Staff Superintendent Peter Sloly of the Toronto Police Service, who received the Professional Excellence Award.
Named for the late Canadian runner, who blazed a trail of success in track and field, setting a number of world records, the Harry Jerome Awards each year celebrate “excellence in achievement in the black community.”
An educator for almost 50 years, Dr. Ouida Wright is a graduate of St. Andrew High School for Girls in Kingston. She taught at McGill University in Montreal and was a Superintendent of Curriculum in the Toronto Board of Education. She assisted in developing policies on race relations, multiculturalism, mathematics, health, science and music. Before retiring, she served as Assistant Deputy Minister of Anti-Racism, Access and Equity in Ontario’s Ministry of Education and Training.
Dr. Leebert Wright has worked as a biochemist in several hospitals in Montreal and Toronto. He has also taught at universities in both cities. Dr. Wright is a past president of the Canadian Society of Clinical Chemists (CSCC), an organization which represents clinical biochemists all across Canada, and he has received the group’s most prestigious award – the Ames Award, for outstanding contribution to the field of Chemical Chemistry.
Dr. Curling’s achievements include being the first black Speaker of Ontario’s Legislative Assembly, and a former Minister of Housing and Minister of Skills Development. He was first elected to the Legislature in 1985, garnering the highest vote total in Canadian history, and was re-elected in his constituency in five subsequent elections.
Gymnast Brittnee Habbib, born in Canada of Jamaican parents, is a member of the Canadian national team and has captured several medals for Canada. She excels not only as an athlete but also in her schoolwork and is fluent in French. Her goal is to become a member of the Canadian team for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China.
A 19-year veteran of the Toronto Police Service, Staff Superintendent Sloly in 1999, became the youngest officer in the history of the Toronto police force to be promoted to a senior officer rank. As the highest ranking Jamaican-born police officer in Canada, he has responsibilities for employment, training, staff planning, community mobilization and diversity management.
Canada’s Governor-General Her Excellency Michaelle Jean, praised the BBPA for its vision in creating the Harry Jerome Awards. “Canadians have been moved by your dedication to honouring the spirit of community service. And, we have been stirred by your devotion to highlighting the achievements of youth, many of whom have surmounted incredible obstacles to emerge as outstanding leaders,” she stated.
The Governor-General also lauded young Canadians, who are increasingly “standing up and saying no to the spirit of indifference and apathy, and are refusing to be victims of their circumstances.”
The other Harry Jerome honourees were: Andrew Brown, Academics; Farley Flex, Arts, Media and Entertainment; Chief Emmanuel Mbulu, Business; Richard Lord, Community Service; Dr. Kwadwo Asante, Health Sciences; Tolulope Quadrihas, Leadership; Mary A. Tidlund, President’s Award; Dr. Victor E. Gooding, Technology & Innovation; Dr. Jean Augustine, Trailblazer; and Rayonne Caesar-Chavannes, Young Entrepreneur.
The BBPA was incorporated in 1983 as a charitable organization to “address equity and opportunity for the black community in business, employment, education and economic development.”

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