JIS News

Jamaica’s Consul General to Toronto, Miss Vivia Betton, accepted the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Black Business and Professional Association (BBPA) on behalf of cultural icon, the Hon. Louise Bennett-Coverley (Miss Lou).
Due to illness, Miss Lou was unable to attend the 22nd annual staging of the BBPA’s Harry Jerome Awards held on Saturday, May 1, at Constitution Hall in the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, downtown Toronto.
Approximately 800 persons, including Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, James Bartleman; Premier of Ontario, Dalton McGuinty and Mayor of Toronto, David Miller, attended the prestigious ceremony where awards were handed out in the fields of Academics, Arts, Athletics, Business, Community Service, Leadership, Media & Entertainment, Professional Excellence, Technology & Innovation, and three special awards – Trailblazer, Lifetime Achievement and President.
The Consul General thanked the Harry Jerome awards committee for singling out Miss Lou as the recipient of this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and said the cultural icon was accepting the award “proudly and yet humbly.”
“Miss Lou extends her appreciation for having recognized her contribution as a pioneer in identifying and promoting Jamaican culture,” said the Consul General. “As Jamaica’s leading comedienne and an eminent author, she underscored and gained acceptance for Jamaican patois as a means of artistic expression and as a language in its own right, both in our native land and around the world. Miss Lou accepts this award on behalf of our people who have always inspired and motivated her,” added Miss Betton.
Making the presentation to the Consul General was Nigel Gray, President of Senvia Money Services, the new remittance company owned by Michael Lee-Chin’s AIC Ltd. and the sponsor of the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Acknowledging that even with her absence Miss Lou’s “spirit and influence” were still present in the room, Mr. Gray praised the cultural ambassador, noting that she made the vernacular of the ordinary people not only acceptable but also something to be celebrated. “She has articulated our aspirations, dreams and fears in a way that has allowed us to be proud of who we are and to celebrate our unique identity,” he said.
Ontario’s Premier Dalton McGuinty congratulated the BBPA on behalf of the six million residents of the province. Describing Harry Jerome as someone of exceptional talent, achievement and commitment to his community and country, the Premier said he was a true Canadian hero and a role model just like the awardees.
“Tonight you are being recognized as leaders, as people of character, as people who are making a real difference in this great province that we share. You are doing much for others. You have our admiration and our profound respect.”
Other awardees included Young and the Restless actress Tonya Lee Williams, for Media & Entertainment who shared her award with her Jamaican-born mother, Torah Williams-Harrison who hails from the parish of St. Ann; Kersha Walker – Academics; Matthew Black – Athletics; Runako Gregg – Leadership; Martin Scott-Pascall – Arts Industry; Michael Duck – Business; Dr. Patricia Horsham – Community Service; Dr. Donald Meeks – Professional Excellence; Drs. Amina and Isa Odidi – Technology and Innovation; Jean-Paul Brown – the President’s Award and Perdita Felicien – the Trailblazer Award.

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