Founder of Women for Pace Receives National Award


Dr. Mavis Burke, Founder of Women for PACE (Canada), has been awarded the Order of Distinction (Officer Class). Jamaica’s High Commissioner to Canada, His Excellency Carl Marshall, presented the award to her on behalf of Governor General, Sir Howard Cooke, at the offices of the Jamaican Consulate General in Toronto, Canada on December 2.
Dr. Burke, who received the national honour for her work in the area of early childhood education, was unable to travel to Jamaica for the Investiture Ceremony, which was held on National Heroes Day (October 18).
Women for PACE (Canada) is a charitable organization, which has adopted more than 120 basic schools across Jamaica since it was formed in 1987 and sponsors bursaries in Early Childhood Education in Jamaica and Toronto. PACE is the acronym for Project for the Advancement of Childhood Education.
During the brief ceremony, High Commissioner Marshall said he felt privileged to be among Jamaicans who have carried the name of Jamaica high. “Every time I meet Jamaicans in Canada, I am overwhelmed by their belief in their country,” he added.
Accepting the award, Dr. Burke said she was not accepting it only for herself, but for “all the people who helped in the effort and mission of the organization”. She gave special credit to the late Kay Baxter, who served as Jamaica’s Consul General to Toronto from 1987 to 1992, for her assistance in getting the organization started.
Dr. Burke, who has served on several educational and multi-cultural Boards in the Toronto area, also taught at Kingston College and the University of the West Indies before migrating to Canada in 1970. “I’ve always had a strong feeling that my career has owed so much to Jamaica that I should do whatever I can to help,” she said.
She said Jamaicans could accomplish much more if they would only look at the last four letters in the word “Jamaican”, which spell “I can”.
Jamaica’s Consul General to Toronto, Vivia Betton congratulated Dr. Burke and noted that persons who were singled out for national honours usually epitomized various areas of development of the society.
“They are usually the thinkers, movers and shakers, and history will always record their legacy,” the Consul General added.
In attendance were family and friends, including Jamaica’s Ambassador of Culture, Dr. the Hon. Louise Bennett-Coverley; sisters Norma Fernandez and Sydney Burke; President of Women for PACE, Diana Burke and other PACE Board members.

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