JIS News

Jamaica’s Ambassador of Culture, Hon. Louise Bennett-Coverley (Miss Lou) will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 22nd Annual Harry Jerome Awards function set for Saturday, May 1 in Toronto.
The prestigious awards are handed out each year by the Black Business and Professional Association (BBPA), to celebrate excellence in the Black community.
This year, 12 outstanding Black Canadians are being honoured in the fields of Academics, Arts, Athletics, Business, Community Service, Leadership, Media and Entertainment, Professional Excellence, Technology and Innovation, and three special awards – Trailblazer, Lifetime Achievement and President’s will also be presented.
The recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award has been described as “an African Canadian senior, with a history of outstanding achievement” and who has made “a significant contribution to Canadian society over an extended period of time”.
Miss Lou, who has been living in Canada for the past 16 years, is described by the BBPA as a “living symbol of the power of the spoken word, known as Jamaica’s leading comedienne and the only poet who has really hit the truth about Jamaican society through its own language. Her priceless contributions to her homeland include valid social documents reflecting the way Jamaicans think, feel and live. Her works have helped to underscore and validate Jamaican patois as a vehicle of artistic expression that is accepted and enjoyed throughout the globe”.
Five of the awards will be presented to young people, between the ages of 16 and 24. Kersha Walker, a high school student, whose overall grade average is in the top 10 percentile, will receive the award in Academics; 18-year-old all-star athlete Matthew Black will be awarded in Athletics; and 21 year-old University of Toronto student, Runako Gregg will receive the award for Leadership.
The Trailblazer award will be presented to 23 year-old world champion hurdler, Perdita Felicien, who last year was named Canadian Press Female Athlete for 2003, and the President’s Award will go to volunteer Jean-Paul Brown, who is making his mark as a social worker.
The other honourees include choreographer and costume designer Martin Scott-Pascall for Arts; child abuse specialist, Dr. Patricia Horsham for Community Service; Professor Emeritus at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Social Work, Dr. Donald Meeks for Professional Excellence; medical researchers, Drs. Amini and Isa Odidi for Technology and Innovation; actress Tonya Lee Williams for Media and Entertainment; and for Business, Michael Duck, who pioneered an automated dispensing machine widely used in restaurants.
Several Canadians of Jamaican heritage have been past recipients of the Harry Jerome Awards, including former Lt. Governor of Ontario, Lincoln Alexander; human rights advocates, Bromley Armstrong and the late Rosemary Brown; community workers, John Brooks and Kamala-Jean Gopie; ophthalmologist, Dr. Garth Taylor; businesspersons, Ron King, Jean Pierre and Denham Jolly; sprinter, Donovan Bailey and boxer Lennox Lewis. In 2002, Chairman of National Commercial Bank (NCB), Michael Lee-Chin was presented with the Business Leader of the Decade Award. The BBPA, founded 22 years ago, serves the business, professional and economic development needs of Toronto’s Black community.
After their first meeting in 1982, members of the BBPA decided to honour several black athletes who had performed well at the Commonwealth Games that year.
They had invited as the keynote speaker, Harry Jerome, a black Canadian sprinter, who had set several records and won medals at the Tokyo Olympics and the Commonwealth and Pan American Games in the 1960s. But before the invitation went out, Mr. Jerome died suddenly at the age of 42. The BBPA then turned the function into a tribute to Mr. Jerome and an awards ceremony for the other athletes, giving birth to the Harry Jerome Awards.

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