JIS News

Grace, Kennedy’s innovative Jamaican Birthright Internship Programme, aimed at reconnecting overseas-based young Jamaicans with their heritage, is receiving praises from Jamaicans living in Toronto.
The programme was launched recently at the Jamaican Canadian Association (JCA) in Toronto, Canada, and among those attending were Jamaica’s cultural Ambassador, Hon. Louise Bennett-Coverley; Jamaica’s Consul General to Toronto, Vivia Betton, and President of the JCA, Valarie Steele.
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Grace, Kennedy, Douglas Orane, in giving details of the programme, said it was the company’s way of responding to the needs of Jamaicans everywhere. “This programme is for Jamaicans who have a yearning to know more about the heritage of their parents and grandparents and this will give them a sense of self-confidence and sense of self,” he added.
The Programme will target “six, bright, eager and enthusiastic” second and third generation Jamaican university students, he noted.
One student will be recruited from Canada, while three students will come from the United States, and two from England. The number is expected to increase if all goes well the pilot project.
The students will be given the opportunity to participate in a nine-week internship in Jamaica, working in one of the Grace. Kennedy group of companies. While the students will learn about the business side of things, the programme will also give them the opportunity to immerse themselves in the Jamaican culture and way of life.
Brian Goldson, Chief Operating Officer of Grace, Kennedy’s Information Division, explained that the aim was to help “close the gap between the Jamaican reality and perception for the students. They will work from Monday to Friday enhancing their professional skills and they will also participate in cultural activities, from the Maroons to Passa Passa”.
Endorsing the programme, the Consul General said the government and people of Jamaica were proud of Grace, Kennedy. She noted that the creation of the programme was the company’s way of paying tribute to Jamaica’s heritage and demonstrating to customers that the company cared. “Grace has grown through hard work, dedication, vision and a passion for excellence, which mirrors the potential of the Jamaican people in the pursuit of excellence,” Miss Betton said.
Newly appointed Director of Grace, Kennedy (Ontario), Judge Pamela Appelt, who hails from St. Mary, pointed out that the programme aimed to connect the students with how their parents and grandparents grew up in Jamaica.
“We are a strong people, strong in faith, strong in determination, strong in ability. We are industrious, we value the principle of decency, fairness, integrity and morality. We value the worth of a good education. We are taught that to succeed calls for respect, responsibility and sound thinking,” she said.
The former Canadian Citizenship Court judge, who has the distinction of being the first black woman ever to be appointed in that position, said that Grace, Kennedy shared the hopes and dreams of all Jamaicans, “that wherever we live we can pass on those memories of our island home to the second and third generation of Jamaicans”.

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