TORONTO — Jamaicans living in Toronto, Canada, are in a state of shock after hearing that one of their much loved former Consuls General, Margarietta St. Juste, has died.
Mrs. St. Juste, who served as Jamaica’s Consul General to Toronto from 1993 to 1997, died on June 28 in Kingston. She was 75 years old.
She served Jamaica with distinction in several capacities in Canada; first as the Regional Manager of the Jamaica National Investment Promotion (JNIP), then as the country’s Trade Commissioner to Canada, following the formation of JAMPRO.
But, it was in her role as Consul General that she shone and endeared a community to her, so much so that hundreds came out to bid her farewell when she demitted office in July 1997.
Prior to being appointed Consul General in 1993, she served as Deputy Consul General in New York for six months under the tutelage of the late Kay Baxter, the then Consul General in New York, who had just completed four years of service as Head of mission in Toronto from 1988 to 1992.
During her tenure, Mrs. St. Juste was credited with bringing the Jamaican community closer together. She defended Jamaica’s image and reputation with honour, seeking audiences with Toronto’s mainstream media and the police when she thought they were being unfair to Jamaicans.
Jamaica’s former Trade Commissioner, Cherita Girvan-Campbell, who was Mrs. St. Juste’s Deputy before getting the top job herself, described her as an outstanding public servant who gave “unstintingly of herself for the betterment of the Jamaican community in Toronto and of her beloved country, Jamaica."
“As President of Arts and Culture Jamaica Inc., I have been privileged to count her among our Patrons, benefiting from her unfailing support as we showcased Jamaica’s unique arts and culture,” Mrs. Girvan-Campbell said.
Founder and former President of Arts and Culture Jamaica, . Paula de Ronde, who broke down in tears when she received the news, described the former consul general as simply one of the very best, who will be remembered as a daughter of Jamaica and who made everyone proud to be a Jamaican.
“She was full of life and her thoughtfulness and dependability were legendary. You could depend on Margarietta to do what she said she would. She was real, genuine, practical, full of ideas, and if it was not for her, Arts and Culture Jamaica Inc. would not exist,” Mrs. De Ronde said.
Describing Mrs. St. Juste as “the consummate diplomat and outstanding civil servant,” former Editor of the Jamaica Weekly Gleaner, Gail Scala, said she was also instrumental in bringing the many layers of the Jamaican community together.
“During her term as Consul General, she was highly respected for her dedication, innovation and love for the Jamaican community. She single-handedly motivated the Canadian-Jamaican community to challenge the stereotyping of our community by the Canadian media and worked tirelessly to bring about a better understanding, respect and acknowledgement of the diversity, creativity and contribution we have made to Ontario and Canada over the years,” Mrs. Scala said.
Co-chair of the Jamaica 50 Toronto Committee, Judge Pamela Appelt, described the late consul general as her friend.
“I’m quite sad, because I’ve lost a dear friend. Our friendship goes back for more than 30 years. She meant a lot to me and my family. Her contribution in Canada has been phenomenal,” she said.
Meanwhile, President of the Jamaica Foundation of Hamilton, Bill DeLisser, said Mrs. St. Juste was well loved by the Toronto and Hamilton communities. “She was somebody I enjoyed working with. On behalf of the Jamaica Foundation of Hamilton, I express condolences to her family,” he said.
Mrs. St. Juste is survived by her 102-year-old mother, two sons, Brian and Francois, several grandchildren, relatives and many friends in Jamaica and Canada.
By CAROLYN GOULBOURNE-WARREN, JIS Reporter