PM Commends Canadians for Establishing Miss Lou’s Room


Prime Minister, Portia Simpson Miller has lauded the Government and people of Ontario, Canada, for making Jamaica’s late cultural ambassador the Hon. Louise Bennett Coverley, a permanent part of the Toronto landscape.
At the official opening of ‘Miss Lou’s Room’ at the famed Harbourfront Centre in downtown Toronto, on Thursday, July 26, on the first anniversary of the passing of Miss Lou, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Entertainment, Aloun Assamba, read a message on behalf of Prime Minister Simpson Miller.
“The naming of Miss Lou’s Room at the Toronto Harbourfront Centre is a signal honour to one of the foremost cultural icons from the Caribbean diaspora.
This recognition by the Ontario government confirms the fact that Miss Lou was understood, appreciated and loved not only in Jamaica but throughout the world. She transcended geographical, cultural, generational and other barriers,” the Prime Minister said.
She also expressed the hope that the Room will continue the work started by Miss Lou and serve as “a haven for young people and those young at heart to experience her rich legacy, including her gift with words by which she was able to make us laugh, dance, sing, teach, provoke, weep, ‘trace’ or shout for joy.
I have every confidence that through this facility, present and future generations will come to be reminded of Jamaica’s unique cultural heritage and the outstanding contribution of Miss Lou in creating an enduring friendship between members of the Jamaican community and the people of Canada.”
The walls of the Room are adorned with her photographs, sayings, poems and songs. Visitors will be able to read about Jamaican folklore character ‘Anancy’ and watch videos and listen to Miss Lou sing and tell stories. More than 40,000 students are expected to utilize the room each year.
Former Prime Minister, P.J. Patterson, who was the guest speaker at the event, noted that Miss Lou’s Room serves not only as a lasting tribute to the work of the cultural icon, but also as a measure of the esteem for the cultural symbiosis which the people of Canada and Jamaica share.
“Miss Lou can never be replaced because her creativity was truly unique, but the room will enable succeeding generations from different cultures to continually enjoy her work and thereby secure her legacy,” he said.
Miss Lou’s Room is an indication of the love and respect that people have for Miss Lou, noted Mr. Patterson, and it is “ideally placed, overlooking Lake Ontario, so reminiscent of her birthplace, Jamaica, and provides an inspiring vista and focal point for the many diverse ethnic origins which flock to Harbourfront Centre. I hope ’nuff’ labrish will take place in Miss Lou’s Room.”
He also said Jamaica owes a tremendous debt to the cultural icon. “She transformed the oral tradition which is so much a part of us into the art form that enabled us to share it with the rest of the world. As a folklorist she brought to life characters that define us and reflect who we are. She was Jamaica’s gift to the world.”
Harbourfront’s Chief Executive Officer William Boyle said the Room will be alive with her achievements and her philosophy, but most of all her spirit. “All of us here at Harbourfront Centre are thrilled and honoured to be the place in Canada where the legendary Miss Lou will be remembered and celebrated every day throughout every year.”
Mr. Boyle also said that although Miss Lou was a Jamaican icon, “Canada also enthusiastically called her our own and we promise to safeguard her vision.”
Meanwhile, Jamaican-born Minister of Children and Youth Services, Mary Anne Chambers said the Harbourfront Centre was the perfect place to house her works.
“Walk good in her place,” the Minister told the audience, “I know there will only be good duppies there.”
Those who participated in the official ribbon cutting included: Mr. Patterson; Minister Assamba; Mary Anne Chambers, Minister of Children and Youth Services; Mr. Boyle; Lionel Conacher, Chairman of the Board, Harbourfront Centre; Her Excellency Evadne Coye, High Commissioner for Jamaica; Jamaica’s Consul General to Toronto Anne-Marie Bonner; Miss Lou’s stepson, Fabian Coverley and executor of Miss Lou’s estate, Pamela Appelt.
Entertainment was provided by Jamaican storyteller Sandra Whiting, poet Lorna Goodison, drummers TC3, spoken word artist Dwayne Morgan, comedian Owen “Blakka” Ellis, the Heritage Singers, and performing the song ‘Under the Coconut Tree’ as Miss Lou and her late husband Eric Coverley, were Letna Allen-Rowe, and Phil Campbell.
Also in attendance were the Chairman of the Institute of Jamaica, Professor Barrington Chevannes; Executive Director of the Institute of Jamaica, Vivian Crawford; veteran journalist Barbara Gloudon; Director of Arts and Culture at the University of Technology, Pat Ramsay; and Carol Lawes.

JIS Social