Plans are in high gear for Jamaica 50 celebrations in Canada, with the main events scheduled around Independence Day, August 6.
A charity golf tournament, a Jamaican flag-raising ceremony, a Carivibe float parade, Jam Days, Rastafest, an Independence party and an Independence Grand Gala are among the many events scheduled to take place in Ottawa and across Canada, home to thousands of Jamaican nationals.
About 10 committees have been set up in Canada’s 10 provinces, including Ottawa, Toronto, Edmonton, Vancouver, Victoria, Halifax and Montreal to organise and promote the events.
Chairman of Jamaica 50 Ottawa, Ewart Walters, told JIS News that the celebrations will help “to lift Jamaica in the eyes of Jamaicans and Canadians."
“One of the things that is happening now is that pride among Jamaicans is being restored,” he said, adding that there is a bright sunshine of this 50th anniversary celebration that is coming out on people.
“This is a good time for us to look at Jamaica with new eyes and to make ourselves as strong as possible in terms of how we lift and fly the Jamaican flag,” Mr. Walters said.
Jamaica’s 50th anniversary celebrations were officially launched in Canada by Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. A. J. Nicholson on March 22, 2012, at the Government Conference Centre in Ottawa.
There was live streaming of this event, which was available to viewers in Jamaica and elsewhere in the world. Earlier, on March 18, there was the launch of Jamaica 50 Ottawa, with a Thanksgiving Church Service, held at the Bethel Pentecostal Church.
“After those two events we had in March, the excitement levels rose tremendously; you could see it and people were asking, ‘When is the next event? What else is happening?’ So, clearly the events have touched a nerve, and had lifted the people’s spirit,” Mr. Walters said.
He noted that the two events had attracted large audiences. “We have never had any Jamaican event in Ottawa that attracted as many as 500 people…people are looking forward to all of these events,” he added.
Mr. Walters said the anniversary functions have also helped to meld the government of Jamaica and the community in Ottawa much closer than it has ever been. “In fact, it is melding all the communities across Canada closely with the government of Jamaica through the High Commission,” he said, making special reference to the diplomatic efforts of the Jamaican High Commissioner, Sheila Sealy Monteith.
“Diplomacy and diaspora got together in a way that they have never got together before and I think that is going to speak very well to the future of the relations of the diaspora communities and what is happening at home,” he said.
Mr. Walters pointed out that there will be an Independence Party on August 3, which should cost less than the Independence Grand Gala scheduled to take place in November.
On Friday July 20, there will be a charity golf tournament. Funds will go towards a Jamaican scholarship fund. A Changing of the Guard ceremony will be held on Monday, August 6 at Parliament Hill, Ottawa, while on the same day a Jamaica flag-raising ceremony will take place at City Hall, Ottawa, starting at 12:00 noon.
Rastafest and Jam Days are slated for Friday, August 10 and Saturday, August 11, respectively, at Festival Plaza, Ottawa. The Jamaica Military Band will perform at these events and other Independence functions in Toronto and Montreal.
Mr. Walters lauded the financial support from Canadians and Canadian businesses for activities in Ottawa, while noting the sponsorship of events by Jamaican companies operating in Toronto.
“In Toronto they are blessed with a multiplicity of Jamaican businesses and Jamaican businessmen,” he said, adding that Jamaican businessmen, Mr. Michael Lee-Chin and Mr. Raymond Chang are two of the big sponsors of the programme in Toronto.
ByE. Hartman Reckord, JIS PRO