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Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister, with responsibility for Local Government, Robert Montague, has urged Jamaicans living in Canada, to become Canadian citizens as soon as they qualify.
Speaking to patrons attending the recent Gala in Toronto, Canada, to celebrate the 46th Anniversary of Jamaica’s Independence and the founding of the Jamaican Canadian Association (JCA), Mr. Montague said they should not let the dual citizenship issue at home prevent them from becoming Canadian citizens.
“You have contributed plenty to Canada and should become citizens. This new Government wants to appoint citizens from the Diaspora to the Senate, but we cannot, not yet, but in time. Being a Canadian citizen cannot deny the fact that ‘yuh navel string plant a Jamaica’,” he said.
Borrowing from the JCA’s theme, ‘Yes Wi Can’, the State Minister said despite some troubling issues in Jamaica, “I am here to assert that, ‘yes wi can’ overcome them. ‘Yes wi can’ find creative and bold solutions to tackle them; ‘yes wi can’ band together as a people to defeat whatever problems assail. Can we express a sense of political maturity? Can we unite around a national, not a political, vision? Can we face adversity and rise? Can we all build a better Jamaica? Can no one sector, group, class, race, gender, party, build Jamaica, but can all of us? Yes wi can!” he declared.
The State Minister, who was in Canada representing Prime Minister Bruce Golding, at Independence activities in Toronto, said Jamaica must be made great again, but that could only happen if all Jamaicans do their part.
Imploring the audience to stop talking and writing negatively about Jamaica, Mr. Montague said “we need to write our own stories”, and he highlighted some positive things.
“Write about our nurses in the hospitals, write about the teachers in the schools, our doctors, lawyers, engineers, talk about that. Write about our artists, our musicians,; write that two of Toronto’s wealthiest men are Jamaicans. Write that our women are going to blaze up Beijing and our men are going to set new records. We must stop beating up on Jamaica and must not buy into the negative images,” he stressed.
Jamaica’s High Commissioner to Canada, Evadne Coye, reminded the gathering that Jamaicans are strong people. “We should not apologise for who we are. Be proud of who we are and what we have achieved. And, we are going to be the country with the biggest haul of medals per capita coming out of the Beijing Olympics,” she said.
President of the JCA, Herman Stewart, announced that the organisation would be launching a fund-raising ‘Yes Wi Can’ campaign later this year, aimed at retiring the mortgage before the 50th anniversary in 2012.
Several persons received awards for their commitment, not only to the JCA, but also to the wider Jamaican community. Lloyd Seivright of the Independent United Order of Solomon, was presented with the Community Award by Mr. Montague. Ian Edwards received the President’s Award, while Lifetime Awards went to Pam Powell and former President of the JCA, Karl Fuller. Five persons received awards for 25 years of membership with the JCA – Judge Stanley Grizzle, Lloyd and Lucille Henning, Beryl Morrison and Joyce Myers.
Those in attendance included former Ontario Government Minister, Jamaican-born Mary Anne Chambers; former Consul-General to Toronto, Ambassador Stewart Stephenson; former President of the JCA, Roy Williams; President of the Black Action Defence Committee, Dudley Laws; Chief of York Region Police, Armand LaBarge, Deputy Chief of Toronto Police, Keith Forde, and Member of Parliament, Alan Tonks.