Friday, 28 July 2017

Jamaicans Across Canada Get Set to Celebrate 55th Anniversary of Independence


By Neil Armstrong

Justice Donald McLeod of the Ontario Court of Justice.    Photo contributed


Jamaicans in eight cities across Canada will be celebrating the island’s 55th anniversary of independence with a variety of events from the end of July to October coordinated by the Jamaica 55 Committee.

In Toronto, there will be a Jamaica 55 gala held at the Jamaican Canadian Association on Aug. 5 with Justice Donald McLeod of the Ontario Court of Justice as the keynote speaker; a flag raising ceremony at City Hall on Aug. 6, a church service at Revivaltime Tabernacle on Aug. 6, and a bus trip to Ottawa on Aug. 7 to attend an event organized by the Jamaican High Commission to mark the 55th anniversary and Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation. Janice Miller, high commissioner, will host a reception that evening.

On Canada’s Thanksgiving long weekend in October there will be an event organized by A-Supreme Foundation involving Juliet Holness, Member of Parliament for St. Andrew East Rural and wife of Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who will be the keynote speaker.

The charitable foundation, which is concerned with the heath care of seniors, will hold its event on Oct. 7 at the International Plaza hotel.

Andrea Davis, Chair of Humanities, York University.  Photo contributed

Carl James, Jean Augustine Chair in Education, Community & Diaspora, York University. Photo credit: Francine Buchner

On Oct. 6, 5:30-9:00 p.m., Holness will be a participant in a panel discussion coordinated by Carl James, Jean Augustine Chair in Education, Community & Diaspora at York University.

It will be hosted by the Jean Augustine Chair, in partnership with Humanities. McMaster University is likely to be another partner and will have materials from the Louise Bennett archive for display.   

 A reception from 5:30-6:30 p.m. will be followed followed by the panel presentation with questions and answers.
 
The other panellists will be Avis Glaze, education consultant and former CEO of the Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat, and Daniel Coleman, professor of English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University. Professor Andrea Davis, Chair of Humanities, York University, will moderate the panel. 

The panellists will present on the social, cultural, economic, educational and literary issues of Jamaica and its diaspora
 
 “We plan to reach out to the community, generally, and to students in the colleges and universities in the Toronto area,” says James.

“Ottawa meets the World – Jamaica” will be held in Ottawa on Aug. 7 and is billed as “a fun- filled family event, free of cost to the public, showcasing the sights, sounds and flavours of Jamaica.”

“Experience the vibrant and rich cultural heritage of Jamaica throughout the course of the day, by rocking to a wide repertoire of musical presentations and savouring the aroma and the exotic cuisine for which Jamaican is renowned. Explore the intricacies of the country through a varied display of quality Jamaican products, experience the warm Jamaican hospitality and enjoy a first hand encounter with our culture,” notes the promo. A church service will be held on Aug. 6.

An Independence church service will be held in Calgary, Alberta on July 30 at Berean Church of God International with senior pastor, Bishop Joseph Hackett, officiating. A flag raising ceremony will be held at City Hall on Aug. 5 and later that day a civic ceremony will be held at Winston Heights Community Centre.

In Montreal, a gala dinner will be held on Aug. 5 with Hume Johnson as the keynote speaker, and on Aug. 6 a church service. In October, a Heroes Day event will be held in that city with Dr. Julius Garvey as the guest speaker.

A “Celebration of Cultures” will be held in Halifax, Nova Scotia on Aug. 7, meanwhile on Aug. 19, a banquet will be held in Edmonton, Alberta.

In Saskatchewan, Pamela Appelt, Chair of the Jamaica 55 Committee, will be the keynote speaker on Aug. 26 at the Jamaica 55 gala.

Storyteller, Letna Allen-Rowe, will be there for the entire weekend sharing stories about Miss Lou in her repertoire.

“That is going to be a fantastic weekend celebration of Jamaica 55,” Appelt says, noting that in the province they organize independence events every two or five years.

Jamaicans in that province will hold a flag raising ceremony on Aug. 11.

On Sept. 21, a business and academic symposium will be held in Vancouver, British Columbia.

“I’m honestly happy to say that we’re following through on what we did for Jamaica 50. We raised the bar there in terms of events we host in our community and we’re continuing along that line and I’m happy that so many people are interested in keeping the Jamaican spirit high,” says Appelt who holds a Master’s degree in public policy, and received an honorary doctorate from Northern Caribbean University in Jamaica in 2002.

In 1987, she was appointed the first female Black Canadian to serve as a judge of the Court of Canadian Citizenship, a position she held for 11 years before retiring to pursue other interests.

[This story has been published in the Jamaica Independence Feature in the NA Weekly Gleaner, July 27, 2017.]

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