Caribbean unity and artistic star power were definitely on display at the Sister Kathleen Jackman memorial scholarship awards held on June 16. Jamaican born R & B singer and 2012 Juno nominee, Jay Douglas charmed the audience with an array of classics backed by Grenadian saxophonist Skel (Michael) Redhead and his band. The packed hall was highly appreciative of his performance, even enthusiastically accepting his invitation to stand and wave.
But this musical mastery was no match for the brilliance of the award recipients, the main purpose for the event. Eleven (11) young adults of Caribbean heritage, at various stages on their journey through post-secondary education, were rewarded for their academic achievement, leadership skills and their service to community through volunteering. The scholarships were administered by the Scholarship Committee at Our Lady of Good Counsel Caribbean Catholic Church (867 College Street) in honor of Sr. Kathleen Jackman. Sr. Jackman was a champion of youth and had made a tremendous impact on the youth of the parish during her short tenure at the church from 1979 to 1983. She was diagnosed with cancer in 1982 and died five short days after her return to her native Trinidad in 1985.
On hand to witness the ceremony were a host of representatives of the Caribbean Consular core including Grenada’s Consul General, Ms. Jenny Gumbs, Honorary Consul for Haiti, Dr. Eric Pierre & Mrs. Pierre, High Commissioner for Trinidad & Tobago, Mr. Phillip Buxo, Ontario’s Fairness Commissioner, Hon. Jean Augustine, and keynote speaker Mr. Royson James among others. Mr. James is a Jamaican born journalist with the Toronto Star who covers Toronto politics. In his address to the awardees, Mr. James implored them to dream big and to not be afraid to step outside the box and to be non-conventional in their career choices. He noted that his parents were not too thrilled with his decision against pursuing the more traditional careers of law, dentistry, medicine or some such. Today he stands as an inspiration and example for all that novelty, fearlessness and belief in oneself can bring success.
The Caribbean centre has over the last 13 years, provided a means for assisting students like me, a past recipient (2006), through the difficult patches that often arise on the road to academic achievement. The assistance and support offered by the Sr. Kathleen Jackman scholarship enabled me to complete my undergraduate degree in Administrative Studies and Management at York University and would also serve as the spark that rekindled within me a drive for community service and volunteering.
Four years later, in 2010, this investment bore fruit, and I now stand as an ardent Grenadian/Caribbean community activist, co-founder and President of a youth organization called Spice Youth Toronto Community Initiative (SYTCI). SYTCI is dedicated to improving access to educational, recreational and cultural resources for youth of Grenadian/Caribbean heritage in the Toronto area through quarterly self development seminars and community engagement initiatives. To date the organization has hosted over six (6) self-development workshops on topics such as money management, personal branding, immigration and sexual health along with hosting several community barbecues and sporting events.
On July 8th this year, we will team up with community partners, Spice Isle Association, Youth Expressions and the Toronto Police 12 Division CPLC to host the 2nd Annual Community Sports & Fun Day at the York Memorial Collegiate school grounds from 9pm. This community engagement initiative will feature cricket, soccer, tug-of-war, lime-n-spoon, raffles and prize giveaways among other activities.
The strides that I have taken as an individual would not have been possible without the support of the community who by their fundraising dollars and donations contribute to the success of events and initiatives like these. Hats off to Mrs. Kathleen Mills-Reece and the members of the committee as you continue to support a generation of youth in the pursuit of their dreams that may someday bear fruit through organizations like SYTCI. I remember this quote from somewhere, ‘Woe unto the nation that fails to support its youth, the future’. This scholarship has contributed nearly 70, 000 in awards to date. A sincere Thank You and Congratulations for doing your part! And may God continue to grant you the fortitude to keep on going.
By Trisha Mitchell
For more info on SYTCI visit www.spiceyouthtoronto.com
For more info on Our Lady of Good Counsel visit http://www.spiritans.com/caribbean.htm