Canada’s Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, praised several Jamaicans as he highlighted the accomplishments and achievements of the black community in Canada at the 27th annual Harry Jerome Awards ceremony held recently in Toronto.
Mr. Harper, who was the guest speaker at the Black Business and Professional Association (BBPA)-organised event, lauded businessman, Michael Lee-Chin, as a “brilliant Jamaican Canadian businessman and a renowned philanthropist.”
In paying tribute to late cultural ambassador, Hon. Louise Bennett-Coverley, Mr. Harper said when he visited Jamaica last year, he found that “the wise and witty poet was as beloved in her native land as she was in her adopted home in Toronto.”
Jamaican-born businesswoman, Delores Lawrence, shows off her Harry Jerome Award for Business presented by the Black Business and Professional Association (BBPA) at a ceremony held recently in Toronto, Canada.
Presented annually to recognise and honour excellence in the black community in Canada, the Harry Jerome Awards are named for the noted black athlete, who was a driving force in Canadian athletics during the 1960s, setting multiple records as a sprinter. As an administrator, he helped to establish Canada’s first sports ministry. He received the Order of Canada in 1970.
Congratulating the awardees, Prime Minister Harper said that “Canada has been immeasurably enriched by such a broad array of ethno-cultural traditions”.
Among the 14 awardees this year were six persons of Jamaican heritage. They are businesswoman Delores Lawrence, who received the Business Award; Hamlin Grange, the President’s Award; Michael Chambers, the Arts Award; Dr. Lisa Robinson, the Health Sciences Award; Aaron Brown, the Athletics Award; and Stanley Grizzle, the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Born in Ocho Rios, St. Ann, Ms. Lawrence is the president and founder of Nursing and Homemakers Inc. (NHI) and has been acknowledged as one of Canada’s top 100 entrepreneurs.
Jamaican-born artist Michael Chambers (right) receives the Harry Jerome Award for Arts from former president of the Professional Association (BBPA), Jamaican-born Sandra Whiting. The awards ceremony was held recently in Toronto, Canada.
An advocate for diversity in the workplace, Kingston-born Mr. Grange is a former journalist, who co-founded the Canadian Association of Black Journalists. Another Kingstonian by birth is artist and photographer Mr. Chambers, who was recently honoured by the National Film Board of Canada for his contributions to photography and social activism.
In 2009, Aaron Brown, whose father is Jamaican, became the first Canadian to ever win a medal at the World Youth Championships when he won the silver in the 100-metre event, and copped the Outstanding Youth Athlete of the Year award.
Dr. Robinson, Canadian-born of Jamaican parentage, was trained in Internal Medicine at the Toronto General Hospital and is an expert in pediatric nephrology. At 92 years old, Mr. Grizzle is the oldest recipient of a Harry Jerome Award. The former citizenship court judge was born in Toronto to Jamaican parents and is a civil rights advocate.
Jamaica’s Consul General to Toronto, George Ramocan, is flanked by wife Lola Ramocan (right) and President of the Black Business and Professional Association (BBPA) Jamaican Pauline Christian (left) at the recently held Harry Jerome Awards ceremony in Toronto, Canada.
The other Harry Jerome awardees were Kwesi Johnson, Academics; Ron Fanfair, Media; Winston La Rose, Community Service; Akwatu Khenti, Professional Excellence; Dr. Abdullah K. Kirumira, Technology and Innovation; Dr. Andrew Knight, Trailblazer Award; Saron Gebresellassi, Leadership Award; and Thomas Tewoldemedhin, Young Entrepreneur Award.
Mr. Grange was also honoured as a member of the first Harry Jerome committee. The other original members recognised were Al Mercury and Al Hamilton (posthumously); Grenadian-born Hon. Jean Augustine; and Jamaican-born Bromley Armstrong, Pamela Appelt, Denham Jolly, Cynthia Reyes and Kamala-Jean Gopie.
President of the BBPA, Jamaican-born Pauline Christian said the organisation, which seeks to encourage and support the pursuit of entrepreneurship business, professional excellence, higher education, and economic empowerment, will be doing its part to hold the decision makers and policy makers accountable to ensure economic empowerment for blacks in Canada.
“The Black Business and Professional Association is more prepared than ever to be significant frontline players in the Canadian economy as we are bold, bright, powerful and able. The BBPA can be considered as the voice of champions, the voice of conscience, the voice of excellence, which constantly utilizes great judgment and the power of reasoning as it pertains to its collaborative efforts to currently assist in the organising of our community,” she stated.
The 1,200-strong audience comprised municipal, provincial and federal government officials; members of the diplomatic corps; business and community leaders; including the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario Hon. David Onley; Chief Justice of Ontario Warren Winkler; Mayor of Toronto, His Worship David Miller; Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, Hon. Jason Kenney; Ontario’s Minister of Health Promotion Jamaican-born Hon. Margarett Best; and Jamaica’s Consul General to Toronto, Mr. George Ramocan and Mrs. Lola Ramocan.