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Newly appointed Consul General to Toronto, Canada, Anne-Marie Bonner, has promised to promote and defend the interests of Jamaica and its nationals in that city. Mrs. Bonner, who assumed duties on April 6, was speaking at a welcome reception, organized by several Jamaican organizations and held at the Jamaican Canadian Centre on April 20.
“During my tenure I intend to continue the tradition of excellence left by my predecessors. I intend to maintain the provision of efficient consular service to Jamaicans and foreign nationals and to improve in areas which may need improvement. In partnership and collaboration with the Jamaican community in the Greater Toronto Area, the Consulate will work to advance the interests of our people at home and in their adopted country, Canada,” she said.
Mrs. Bonner, who was previously Principal Director of the Policy Analysis and Review Unit of the Cabinet Office, said she would be working for “law-abiding Jamaicans, our farm workers, students, and nationals who are incarcerated”. Those in prison, she added, deserve a fair hearing, due process and dignity as human beings.
She pointed out that her particular areas of interest were children and young people, adding that at a time of advancement in technology and communication, the children of the world were being neglected, abused and killed everyday.
“We need to take a stand to protect them and to make every effort to ensure that they realize their full potential and can contribute to the progress and development of the world,” she said.
The Consul General said that Jamaicans must always cherish and celebrate their multi-cultural heritage.”We must reflect our rich African, Chinese, Indian, Lebanese and Jewish heritage, born of the early immigrants of Jamaica. That is what makes us ‘out of many one people’. This is the cultural tradition that I embrace and will encourage during my tenure. We are an inclusive people and this fact must always be reflected,” she said.
Mrs. Bonner said she would be encouraging prospective investors to do business in Jamaica. Every job created, she pointed out, was one less unemployed Jamaican.
Jamaica’s High Commissioner to Canada, His Excellency Carl Marshall, said the new Consul General “comes to the post with pedigree credentials”.
Mrs. Bonner was Senior Director of the Policy Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister, where she was responsible for co-ordinating and advising on social policy, including the National Poverty Eradication Programme. She was also an Investment Analyst and Special Project Co-ordinator with the National Investment Bank of Jamaica (NIBJ).
A graduate of University of the West Indies (UWI) with a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics and Management, and a Master of Science degree in Economics, Mrs. Bonner also holds Certificates in Gender Analysis, Managing Political and Economic Reform, and Performance Management.
Welcoming the new Consul General on behalf of the Jamaican community, Ontario’s Minister of Children and Youth Services, Jamaican-born Mary-Anne Chambers, said that Jamaicans have made a difference in Ontario and Canada.
“I feel a real sense of pride as I look around at a room full of success stories, high achievers, bright people, warm, gracious people, sons and daughters of Jamaica who have made Canada their adopted home,” said Minister Chambers.
“I think about the contributions that they are making to Ontario’s prosperity, and to the quality of life that Ontarians enjoy. I think about the fact that we are products of that little but ‘tallawah’ island. And I think, how wonderful,” she added.
Also bringing greetings was the Dean of the Consular Corps and Consul General for St. Lucia, Winall Joshua. He noted that the Jamaican community was perhaps the most active among CARICOM countries and that others could learn from “the Jamaican experience”.The Jamaican community, he said, was made up of people who were willing to work, sacrifice and make contributions to their country.