Jamaicans in Canada Gearing up for Independence


Jamaicans across Canada are gearing up to celebrate Jamaica’s 47th year of Independence, with activities such as flag-raising ceremonies, and church services, under this year’s theme: ‘I Believe in Jamaica’.
In Toronto, home to the largest number of Jamaicans in Canada, and in the French-speaking city of Montreal, the Independence festivities have already begun, with the staging of ‘Jamaica Day’ in both cities, on July 25. Thousands of Jamaicans decked out in the colours of black, green and gold, gathered in both places to pay homage to all things Jamaican.
Jamaica’s High Commissioner to Canada, Her Excellency Evadne Coye, made an appearance at Jamaica Day, in Toronto. She implored Jamaicans in the audience to continue to fly the Jamaican flag with pride and to believe in Jamaica.
“We not only excel in sports or in music,” said the High Commissioner. “We possess people who can reach the highest heights in any field. We believe in a Jamaica which will overcome its problems, where unity will get us out of this economic crisis. We believe in God. We believe in ourselves. We believe in Jamaica,” she said.
A new element to this year’s celebrations will be performances by the 10-member Charles Town Maroon Drummers, direct from Jamaica. The group will perform in Ottawa on July 31; in Toronto on August 1 and 3; and then move to Halifax, Nova Scotia, from August 5 to 9. In Halifax, they will re-trace the steps of more than 500 maroons who were banished from Jamaica to Nova Scotia by the British colonial Government in 1796.
This year’s Independence Church Service in Toronto, organised by the Jamaican Consulate General and several community organisations, will take place on Sunday, August 2, at Faith Sanctuary, 1901 Jane Street. Delivering the sermon will be Reverend Granville McKenzie, the Senior Pastor at Faith Sanctuary, who was ordained in 2001. A graduate of Tyndale Seminary, with a Master of Theological Studies degree, Rev. McKenzie believes in Jamaica.
“Jamaica is a land blessed with the best of people, natural resources and opportunity. I believe Jamaicans have the capacity to transform the island, with the help of God, into a model of social, economic and spiritual harmony for the whole Caribbean region,” Rev. McKenzie told JIS News.
Other participating clergy include Rev. Hopelyn West, Rev. Moral Grant and Rev. Trevor Hooper from Praise Cathedral Worship Centre, and Rev. Melva Meredith-Lewis from Faith Sanctuary. Jamaica’s Consul General to Toronto, Ms. Anne-Marie Bonner, is expected to read the Prime Minister’s Independence Message. Two very needy basic schools in Jamaica will be the recipients of proceeds from the offering. Following the service, a reception will be held in the church hall.
Jamaicans in Ottawa, Canada’s capital city, will also hold a church service, at the Ottawa Seventh Day Adventist Church, 2200 Benjamin Drive, on Sunday, August 9.
The Jamaican flag will be raised on Sunday, August 2, at the Jamaican Canadian Centre in Toronto; and at Regina City Hall in Regina, Saskatchewan, and at the Elgin Police Station, in Ottawa, on Friday, August 7.
Celebrating with Independence Balls/Banquets will be Jamaicans living in Vancouver, British Columbia (August 1); Toronto, Ontario (August 8); Winnipeg, Manitoba (August 8); and Calgary (August 8) and Edmonton (August 15), Alberta. The celebrations in Toronto will recall the superb performance of the Jamaican team at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Three cities will stage elaborate outdoor festivals. In Vancouver, the Jamaican Canadian Cultural Association of British Columbia (JCCABC) will host a Jamaican Festival and Sports Day on Sunday, August 2, featuring bob sled races and strong man competitions. On Monday, August 3, Air Jamaica Day, now renamed JAMBANA, will take place at Downsview Park in Toronto and on August 8, the Jamaican (Ottawa) Community Association will hold its annual JAMDAY in Vincent Massey Park.

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