In 1962, a group of Jamaicans living in Toronto, Canada, wanted to celebrate the Independence of their island home. The planning of the festivities resulted in the formation of the Jamaican Canadian Association (JCA), which today is regarded as the largest and oldest Jamaican community organisation in Canada.
Like Jamaica, the JCA this year celebrates its 47th year of existence. At the Independence Gala, held on Saturday, August 8, at the Jamaican Canadian Centre, in Toronto, President, Audrey Campbell, said the Jamaicans who formed the JCA in 1962 had a vision for a social club for Jamaicans where they could meet.
“Forty-seven years later we are proud that this organisation is still here and still going strong. We are proud of the JCA and its accomplishments and the service it has provided to the African Canadian and Caribbean communities as well as other nationalities. We have impacted hundreds of thousands of lives through our social service programmes; scholarships assisting with educational pursuits; Saturday morning tutorials for students in the core subjects of Mathematics and English; mentorship programmes; retraining adults to enter the work force; and advocating on behalf of our citizens to all levels of Government,” she said.
Ms. Campbell noted that the two themes chosen to commemorate this year’s Independence celebrations and the JCA’s birthday – ‘I Believe in Jamaica’ and ‘Going for the Gold’, respectively – are very timely.
President of the Jamaican Canadian Association (JCA), Ms. Audrey Campbell (right), presents Ms. Charmaine Sewell (left) with the President’s Award, for her commitment and work with the JCA, at the Independence Gala, held in Toronto, Canada, on August 8.
“Jamaica’s theme, ‘I Believe in Jamaica’, talks to the commitment of its people and their unwavering support of their native land. We believe in the future growth of Jamaica, regardless of the obstacles and challenges that befall it. We may physically leave Jamaica to immigrate to foreign lands but Jamaica is always in our hearts. Our theme, ‘Going for the Gold’, is symbolic. The stewardship has been handed to the next generation as we look forward to our 50th anniversary. The baton has been passed as we undertake the journey to steer this organisation,” she said.
Guest speaker for the evening, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Delta Uranium, Mr. Wayne Isaacs, said most people, when they hear the words, ‘Going for the Gold’, may think of great athletic achievements like sprinter Usain Bolt winning the gold medal and smashing records at the Beijing Olympics.
“However, I submit to you that before Usain Bolt won the gold on the track, he won the gold inside him. We all have to find the gold within ourselves and go for it. It is there, it is possible and it should never be ignored,” he said.
Although Jamaicans have had major successes in sports and entertainment, the CEO, who migrated from Jamaica at age 11, said we should go way beyond that.
Keynote speaker at the Independence Gala, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Delta Uranium, Mr. Wayne Isaacs. The gala was held in Toronto, Canada, on August 8.
“Let’s not cheat ourselves out of all the other possible ways of being successful. Let’s not forget about public service, academics, community service, politics, medicine and auto mechanics. And let’s not forget that success is not always measured in monetary rewards or financial accomplishment. If we build one person, we can build a household, then a neighbourhood, then a town, then a city, then a province, then a country, then a much better world. If each of us goes for the gold within ourselves, we can be a better people,” Mr. Isaacs said.
He paid tribute to the stalwarts in the Jamaican community, including activist, Dudley Laws, who have worked tirelessly on behalf of the community. He also paid tribute to his mother, Iris Levene, for the “tremendous sacrifice” and bold move she made in leaving Jamaica “as a single mother with no money, no big connections, no big family name and only basic education, but making sure that her children were empowered by having a good education.”
Also in attendance were Jamaica’s Consul General to Toronto, Ms. Anne-Marie Bonner, who read Prime Minister the Hon. Bruce Golding’s Independence Message; Jamaican-born Minister of Health Promotion, Hon. Margarett Best, who is also Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) for Scarborough-Guildwood; and Member of Parliament (MP) for York West, Judy Sgro.
Awards were handed out to several persons for their contribution to the JCA and the wider community, including the Outstanding Volunteer Award to Mr. Francis McDonald; 25-year Service Awards to Mr. Raphael Walters and Ms. Gloria Nelson; Lifetime Achievement Awards to Ms. Bernice Bailey and Ms. Daphne Bailey; Community Service Award to Ms. Kathleen Nelson; and the President’s Award to Ms. Charmaine Sewell.