JIS News

Rev. Don Meredith has created history, becoming the first Jamaican and the fourth black person to be appointed to the Senate in Canada.
Prime Minister of Canada, the Hon. Stephen Harper, who announced the appointment of Rev. Meredith and former Canadian Football League Commissioner, Larry Smith to the Senate on December 20, said that “both are well regarded and visible figures in their communities, who will bring a wealth of experience in business, philanthropy, sport and community initiatives to their new role as Senators.”
Rev. Don Meredith fills a vacancy in Ontario. Prime Minister Harper said he is looking forward to working with the two new appointees, who “have pledged to support the Government in its efforts to make the Senate more democratic and accountable, including legislation to limit Senate tenure and to allow provinces to elect their Senators.”
Speaking to JIS News recently, Rev. Meredith, who is Pastor of the Pentecostal Praise Centre in Ontario, said that he is very excited, humbled and proud to serve as a Canadian Senator, and called the appointment a “gift from the Lord.”
The 47-year old, who is from the parish of St. Ann is a strong community leader and advocate and has volunteered his service to several groups. Among them are: Black Community Police Consultative Committee; York Region Police Chief’s Advisory Committee; Toronto Police Service Chief’s Advisory Service; York Regional Community Police Liaison; Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Consultative Committee; and B’Nai Brith Special Advisory Council to the League for Human Rights.
He is the recipient of many awards for his outstanding work, including the Urban Leadership Award from the Canadian Urban Institute and the Toronto Police Service 13 Division Community Service Award.
The businessmen, who owns a landscaping business, is also passionate about assisting young people, which he does through the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) Faith Alliance that he co-founded and now serves as Executive Director.
The interfaith group was formed in 2002 in response to the escalating violence among young black males in the community. It places focus on education and recently opened a community centre to train young people in computer software and repair. The goal is to open another 69 centres across the GTA, Rev. Meredith said.
“Government agencies and police sometimes don’t have the solutions and they are looking to the faith community to lend support rather than throwing negative remarks,” the 47 year-old told JIS News.
“It’s incumbent upon us, when we look at the situation of our young black males being killed that our leaders have got to stand and step up to the plate and say we are not here to criticize, but to help,” he added.
According to Rev. Meredith, young people are being influenced by negative behaviours, which are pulling them away from the core values of self-respect, self-dignity, self-esteem and pride, and they need guidance in order to realize their true potential.
“They are looking for guidance and someone to love them and appreciate them and sometimes they look for those things in the wrong places. As leaders, we need to become surrogate fathers to those young males and females and teach them how they should present themselves. What’s lacking in our society today is that young people are not being raised with the same value system we were raised with,” he argued.
Born in Rhoden Hall, St. Ann, a stone’s throw from the birthplace of reggae icon Bob Marley, Rev. Meredith migrated to Canada in 1976 at the age of 12 years old and committed his life to the Lord two years later. A graduate of Weston Collegiate Institute in Toronto, he attended several post-secondary institutions and holds a Master’s Degree in Theology from the California State Christian University.
One of the things the Senator vividly remembers about his childhood in Jamaica is the sense of community and togetherness, which permeated the society.
The new Senator, who is former chair of Government Relations for the Jamaican Diaspora Canada Foundation (JDCF), strongly believes that Jamaicans have the capacity for greatness. “We’re leaders. Everywhere we go we make our mark. People want to follow Jamaicans; they want to be like us. It’s important that we recognize and galvanize that following and what people love about us. We are entrepreneurial.it doesn’t matter what you give us or what circumstances we’re under, we will persevere and we will overcome,” he stated.
Rev. Meredith said that his appointment “sends a message to our young people that it doesn’t matter where you are in the world or what your circumstances are, you must continue to be dedicated, continue to educate yourselves and to be an agent of change. Also being true to yourself, to your faith and to your God is essential because He is the one who promotes you and allow things to happen in your life.”
Rev. Meredith has been married to his wife Michelle for over 20 years and is the father of two children, one in high school and the other attending university.