TORONTO — There are events and experiences that are forever etched in the mind of Jamaican-born journalist Ewart Walters.
Among them is the day of August 17, 1951, when Hurricane Charlie swept across the island, leaving in its wake, utter devastation, with hundreds dead, and thousands of others injured and homeless.
Then, there is his experience at Calabar High School in Kingston, his work in the Jamaican media, starting his own paper in Canada, which are all captured in his memoir: ‘To Follow Right… A Journalist’s Journey’.
The book was launched in Toronto on August 17, which was the 60th anniversary of Hurricane Charlie.
Reading excerpts from the book, members of the audience were able to gain insight into the people, things and events, which have made an impression on Mr. Walters over the years, such as his parents, who were schoolteachers; Jamaican politics; and his wife of 46 years, Merle.
The autobiography also addresses his years of service with the Jamaican government, having served five years as Counsellor in Ottawa and a year in New York as Consul. He later worked with the Canadian Government as senior advisor on Access to Information and Privacy in the office of the President of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).
The 71-year old Walters, who resides in Canada, has had a long career in journalism having worked for several newspapers including the Gleaner, and the now defunct the Public Opinion and the Daily News. He founded Spectrum, a community newspaper in Ottawa.
Reminiscing about his years at Calabar, which was a boarding school when he began attending in 1952, Mr. Walters lamented the demise of boarding institutions, noting that “as boarders we learned to live with our fellows”.
“It was here that we were molded for the wider life. We were a disciplined lot. It was, overall, a time when we, like Shelley’s moth aspiring to reach the star, strove to attain the school’s motto, ‘The utmost for the Highest’,” he added.
In bringing greetings at the launch held in the courtyard of A Different Booklist, a book store that caters to African and Caribbean literature and writers, Jamaica’s Consul General to Toronto, Seth George Ramocan, described Mr. Walters as “another Jamaican, who has contributed much to Jamaica, by uplifting the name of the biggest little country in the world."
“Many books have been written by great men; but few great men have written about their lives,” he said.
“Young people are at a loss today to find role models and there is much to be gained by following the philosophy of ‘following right’. The book is captivating and remarkable, and demonstrates your tenacity of holding on to a core belief in life,” the Consul General added.
Writing the introduction to the book, long-time friend, Claude Robinson, said the biography is “a thoughtful reflection on a life lived largely in service and offers lessons of wide appeal. Following right is not always easy, but it makes the journey richer and more rewarding; and there are fewer regrets."
Mr. Walters is the recipient of many awards. In 2010, the year he celebrated his 70th birthday, he was invested with the Order of Distinction, Commander Rank; the 2010 Prize for Print Journalism from the Canadian Ethnic Media Association; the Citizen of the Year Award from the Omega Psi Phi fraternity at his alma mater Carleton University; and the Martin Luther King DreamKeepers Award.
He also edited the book: ‘Sugar Boy, The Story of Cedric Titus’, about the life of the cane farmer and politician, who revolutionised the cane farming industry and suffered an untimely death.
Cedric Titus’ daughter, Faye Beaufort, who was present at the book launch, thanked Mr. Walters for all his assistance in bringing to life, the work and achievements of her father.
Those attending the book launch included his wife Merle; author Rachel Manley; President of Arts and Culture Jamaica, Cherita Girvan-Campbell; President of the Calabar Old Boys Association (COBA), Eugene Chang; and other COBA members.
By Carolyn Goulbourne-Warren, JIS Reporter