Jamaicans living in Canada have been encouraged not to give up on the country of their birth.
“We must not give up on Jamaica. Support your country and support your people,” urged President of the Ontario Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Canada, Dr. Mansfield Edwards.
He was delivering the sermon at the Independence Church Service, held on August 1 at the Revivaltime Tabernacle in Toronto, Canada, to commemorate Jamaica’s 48th Year of Independence, and organised jointly by the Jamaican Consulate General and several community organisations.
Members of the Philadelphia Patriot Pathfinders march into the Sanctuary of Revivaltime Tabernacle in Toronto, Canada, with the Jamaican and Canadian flags to signal the start of the Church Service commemorating Jamaica’s 48th Year of Independence.
Dr. Mansfield implored the congregation to invest in Jamaica and help turn around the economy.
“I don’t care which country is offering cheaper resorts for the tourist dollar. Go home. There are not many ways we can invest our money and at the same time enjoy ourselves. So invest in Jamaica. I appeal to you, stand by your country. There are 2.5 million Jamaicans living outside Jamaica and if each one of us should remember our country and be passionate about our country and make contributions to our country, then I tell you we can make a difference there,” he argued.
The St. Andrew-born pastor, who attended Lawrence Tavern Primary and Calabar High schools, said the theme, ‘I Believe in Jamaica’, is the local application of United States President Barack Obama’s, ‘Yes We Can’.
“We may come from different parishes but we are one family. We’ve got to be there for the people still in Jamaica. We have responsibilities to each other here and we have obligations to our people there,” Dr. Mansfield said.
A section of the congregation at the Independence Church Service, held at Revivaltime Tabernacle in Toronto, Canada.
Independence, he noted, should be carefully nurtured, cherished, respected and preserved, or it can be lost, and eventually the independence will once again become dependence. He called for the inclusion of God in the Jamaican culture and lifestyle, and reminisced about a time when the first activity in school was not academic, but devoted to praying, scripture reading and hymn singing.
“Those were the days; those were the good old days. That was the foundation we received. We grew up learning about God, trusting God, appreciating the value of the Scripture of God. We sing Eternal Father bless our land – that anthem is a prayer but we don’t sing it so often anymore. I’ve met teenagers who could tell you every word of (popular) songs, but they can’t tell you what the Anthem is about. We’ve grown away from our roots. We may well be denying ourselves as a nation some blessing that God has for us, because we no longer put Him first,” he said.
Jamaica’s High Commissioner to Canada, Her Excellency Sheila Sealy Monteith read the Prime Minister’s Emancipation Day Message and Consul General to Toronto, Mr. Seth George Ramocan, read one of the Scripture lessons.
Also in attendance were the parents of World and Olympic record holder, Usain Bolt, Wellesley and Jennifer Bolt; community leaders, including former government minister and current President of PACE Canada, Mary Anne Chambers; President of the Jamaican Canadian Association, Audrey Campbell; President of the Jamaican Diaspora Canada Foundation, Sharon Folkes-Abrahams; former Speaker of the Ontario Legislature, Dr. Alvin Curling; and representatives of Jamaican government agencies – Jamaica Tourist Board, JAMPRO and the Jamaican Consulate General.
The Westhaven Children’s Home for the Disabled was chosen as the Jamaican charity to receive the proceeds from the offering. Located in Copse, Hanover, the 24-year-old institution is home to 80 children with mental and physical disabilities.