Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Canada's High Commissioner Laurie Peters commends Jamaica's Volunteers

High Commissioner Laurie Peters at the induction of Monsignor Gregory Ramkissoon
into the CVSS Hall of  Fame by CVSS Volunteer President Gary 'Butch' Hendrickson

Dear readers: Canada's High Commissioner  Ms Peters gave an inspiring address at the recent CVSS Awards Gala.  I am pleased to share it with you.

Speech by Canada’s High Commissioner Ms Laurie Peters
The Council of Voluntary Social Services
National Volunteer Awards Gala

·       I am delighted to be with you here this evening to be a part of this prestigious event, hosted by the Council of Voluntary Social Services to honour volunteers who have added significant value to the development of Jamaica, and who continue to impact the lives of Jamaicans.

·     I am also humbled to be asked to speak as your keynote after only one year in my role here as Canada’s High Commissioner.
·     I do acknowledge that it is perhaps more in recognition of Canada’s longstanding partnership and friendship with Jamaica and our track-record of assistance and capacity building through our CIDA and now through Global Affairs Canada – rather than through my own personal contributions.

·     That being said, I do come from a family of volunteers: earliest memories of accompanying my Mum as she went door to door canvassing for the Canadian cancer society or cheering on my Dad Coach Peters who started up inner-city football team.

·     This spirit of giving has rubbed off on all 7 of us kids – personally and professionally.  Going for my first job interview – I recall the nugget of wisdom from my now 94 year young Mum – tell them you’ll volunteer!  I suppose it is no surprise that I left my 18 year career with the public service to work with a volunteer driven NGO, Aga Khan Foundation Canada – part of the Aga Khan Development Network where I learned the true meaning of the value of a “hand-up” beyond that of a “hand-out”.

·     And while I returned to the public service – and more specifically to Canada’s foreign service, I am delighted to know that I can continue to contribute – personally and professionally to the welfare and well-being of my community – whether in Canada – in Japan (my previous posting where they suffered the devastation of the 2011 tsunami and earthquake) and now, here in Jamaica.

·     Here in Jamaica where in my brief 12 months I have seen first hand the generosity and giving spirit of Foundations from RockHouse to Rosetown; individuals like Cynthia at Winnifred Beach; Angela at Women’s Inc and Georgie in Discovery Bay.  And those countless generous souls here in Kingston – here in this room – who continually give of themselves – their time and their funds to lift up the communities of Jamaica.  It is both impressive and inspiring and I am honoured to be amidst this sense of service to others here in Jamaica.

·       Mahatma Ghandi once said, “that the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” We all know that the task of protecting human dignity and achieving noble goals such as eradicating poverty and hunger, intolerance and discrimination, and other threats to human dignity would not be possible without the energy and dedication of volunteers.

·     Volunteerism also offers a means for people to show their value and to reaffirm that they have an important place in society. It can build a sense of self-worth, and true feeling of pride for their contribution to creating a better world.

·     But I don’t need to tell this room about the importance of volunteering. It is incredible to be surrounded in such generous and caring community and corporate leaders who pitch in and support such worthwhile initiatives from Early Childhood Education to uplifting the abandoned and forgotten to mentoring young women and men in need of a hand up.

·     So perhaps you will indulge me briefly to speak about Canada’s approach to volunteering and service so that you might just see how we are all in this giant ‘circle of love’ together.

·     Canada has a proud tradition of supporting volunteer opportunities. A 2010 survey found that about one-half of Canadians contributed their time, energy and skills to groups and organizations such as charities and non-profits. (In more recent years, we are also seeing how “new Canadians” are contributing to the social fabric of their new home through volunteering.)

·     Like Jamaicans, in volunteering, they provided leadership on boards and committees; canvassed for funds; provided advice, counselled or mentored; visited seniors; prepared and delivered food; served as volunteer drivers; advocated for social causes; and coached children and youth (like my Dad, Coach Peters). In short, they shaped their communities and enabled non-profit organizations to deliver programs and services to millions of their fellow Canadians.

·       Like Jamaica, each year, Canada celebrates National Volunteer Week. It is a time when Canadians celebrate and thank Canada’s volunteers, and highlight their contributions in our communities.

·       Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau refers to volunteers as “quiet builders and the constant backbone of every city, town, village, and outpost.” (if you change outpost to “parish” I am sure this same quotation would apply to Jamaica).

·     The Government of Canada is dedicated to making sure more young people have opportunities to serve. Earlier this year, we launched the first phase of Canada Service Corps, the country’s first national youth service initiative. In encouraging a the spirit of volunteerism, Canada works with young Canadians to create a program that will provide them with meaningful volunteer and service opportunities, and inspire a new culture of service across the country.

·     Like Canada, Jamaica, also highlights its volunteers. Prime Minister Holness has hailed the outstanding philanthropic contributions of citizens and corporate entities which have served to engender a culture of volunteerism locally.

·     Like Canada’s Governor General, Governor General Sir Patrick Allen has recognized Jamaican volunteers through the Governor-General’s Achievement Award Scheme, the Governor-General’s Youth Award of Excellence, and the Governor-General’s Jamaican Diaspora Award for Excellence, and the I Believe Initiative.
·     There are a number of Canadian volunteer organizations doing great work around the world and in Jamaica.

·     The work of Canadian University Services Oversees (CUSO) comes to mind. Over the past five decades members of CUSO International have volunteered around the world, helping people in need and building sustainable communities. Today, CUSO International work in over 40 countries, including Jamaica, to provide essential services, learning opportunities, and improve living conditions for so many.

·     The work of the Canadian Executive Service Organization (CESO) is also known to many Jamaicans. Each year, several CESO volunteers work within Jamaica’s private and public sectors to assist with organizational and community development.
·     WUSC – Volunteers from World University Service of Canada who have been working most recently on the PROPEL project in Manchester and other parishes – a unique and sustainable agriculture initiative to facilitate the safe effective movement of fresh produce from farms to markets.

As a young Canadian volunteer affirms, volunteering allows one to gain even more than one gives:

Volunteering in Jamaica has been a truly gratifying, wonderful experience. As a sovereign island nation, Jamaica has so much more to offer than just gorgeous beaches. Hilly, sleepy towns, magnificent mountains, beautiful forests, freshly cultivated fields, and many other hidden treasures abound, including a rich and diverse culture and history. Volunteering with WUSC has allowed me to glimpse a different side of Jamaica that most visitors rarely get to experience.

·     Beyond the individual commitments and rewards of volunteering, the contributions of corporations in this space – such as Sagicor who is being honoured this evening -- is laudible

·     As I read in the Observer this week (Doing Well by Doing Good by Henley Morgan), and as our good friend Howard Mitchell reminded us in a recent speech to Rotarians, there is great merit in corporations ‘doing good.”

·     “Companies can reap incredible growth while sowing tremendous improvement in people’s lives”.

·     “There is growing realization that business has a responsibility that goes beyond blithely buying, selling and making a profit.  Business has a corporate social responsibility”. 

·     This is evidenced by the plethora of corporate foundations here in Jamaica – in fact right here in this room -- that together give hundreds of millions of dollars to social causes and programmes.

·     Canada echoes this sentiment and also amplifies this beyond our borders promoting Corporate Social Responsibility globally.

·     The term “CSR” means different things to different people. When we in Canada refer to Corporate Social Responsibility, we are NOT talking about a company building a school or a hospital - which is corporate philanthropy.

·     Rather, we define CSR as “the voluntary activities undertaken by a company, over and above minimum legal requirements, to operate in an economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable manner”. 

·     To expand a little further on Canada’s approach to CSR, we encourage companies to look across their business functions through the lens of their impact on the surrounding economy, community and environment and adjust the way they perform these functions to create value for both the companies and the public good.

·     Experience has shown that those firms that go above and beyond the letter of the law to adapt their planning and operation processes along CSR lines, in a market-appropriate manner, are better positioned to succeed in the long-term and to contribute to a more stable and prosperous environment for all.

·     This is why the Government of Canada expects all Canadian companies operating abroad, regardless of sector, to respect human rights, all applicable laws and international standards, to operate transparently and in consultation with host governments and local communities, and to work in a socially and environmentally responsible manner.

·     I am proud that at my own High Commission, the spirit of volunteerism is alive and well.  Gestures from both my fellow diplomats and our local Jamaican colleagues – both big and small – are a reminder of not only our responsibility as guests of Jamaica but our duty as global citizens.  Building a school with Food for the Poor Canada in Trelawny; Raising funds for Women’s Inc Women’s Shelter; Wearing Pink in support of Breast Cancer Awareness (tomorrow!) – are all gestures to remind us that we are in this together.

·     Looking at the list of awardees I am thrilled to note that some have a “Canadian” connection, as the High Commission of Canada has had the privilege of working closely with them and their organizations on several initiatives.

·     Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI)

·     through CFLI, we had supported the Mustard Seed Communities in F/Y 2006-2007 to improve the facilities at Dare to Care – A Mustard Seed Communities HIV/AIDS Home for children. In F/Y 2008-2009, through CFLI, we had supported the construction of a Greenhouse at Jacob’s Ladder in Haddon, St. Ann.

·     And I was delighted to see Manchester’s Young Women/Men of Purpose being honoured this evening as our Canada Fund supported the training of 45 young disadvantaged women.  I was thrilled to see the new confidence of these women when I attended their graduation ceremony at the outset of this year.

·     Your theme this evening couldn't be more appropriate. I also truly believe that “Volunteerism is a Circle of Love.” It is that circle of love that guides the hands of the team of doctors from Canadian Vision Care who visit Jamaica each year, and partners with the Jamaica’s Lions Club to provide primary eye care (eye exam and glasses) and surgical care to many Jamaicans.

·       It is also that circle of love that engulfs Food For the Poor Canada, and its team of volunteers. They go across the world whether to renovate or construct classrooms in Jamaica, build houses in Haiti, ship millions of dollars’ worth of medicine, medical equipment, food and educational supplies and provide emergency relief after natural disasters.

·       We see that circle of love in-house through the Government of Canada Workplace Charitable Campaign in support of United Way Health Partners and other registered Canadian charities. At the High Commission, there are members of staff who volunteer on the Environmental Committee (encouraging us to be more environmentally aware), or as members of the Canadian Women’s Club (raising money for many local initiatives).

·     This evening, I am truly honoured that you have allowed this Canadian to be included in the circle of love and generosity of spirit that is your Jamaica – our Jamaica --land we love.
Before I close, I have a confession to make – I had thought that the theme of the evening was Circle of Life and I was prepared to end on Elton John’s song from the Lion King.  As it turns out, the lyrics do apply to this spirit of giving we are celebrating this evening (much more so than the Circle of Love by The Steve Miller Band!).

Thank You.

H.E. Laurie Peters
High Commissioner of Canada
Kingston, JAMAICA
October 4, 2018

Circle of Life
From the day we arrive on the planet
And blinking, step into the sun
There's more to see than can ever be seen
More to do than can ever be done
There's far too much to take in here
More to find than can ever be found
But the sun rolling high
Through the sapphire sky
Keeps great and small on the endless round
It's the circle of life
And it moves us all
Through despair and hope
Through faith and love
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the circle
The circle of life
It's the circle of life
And it moves us all
Through despair and hope
Through faith and love
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the circle
The circle of life
Songwriters: Elton John / Tim Rice

Saturday, October 6, 2018

2018 St. George’s College Hall Of Fame Banquet

by Dr Lloyd Tenn

2018 St. George's College Hall Of Fame Banquet

It was a grand affair at the Spanish Court Hotel in Kingston, Jamaica last Saturday night as Georgians gathered to honor four of their own for their contribution to country, community and school. Present among the some 300 plus attendees were former Prime Minister and Georgian Hon. Bruce Golding and present Minister of Health, Hon. Christopher Tufton.
The Inductees were introduced and were given the opportunity to say a few words to the gathering.

  Phillip Wong, graduated in 1959 was actually born in Tahiti to a Jamaican father and was sent to school in Jamaica. He remembered the generosity shown to him here and the sense of striving for excellence while in school. A very successful business man, his contribution spans nine scholarships, including one to recent Old Boy Jezeel Martin. Jezeel is a young, bright attorney-at-law who presented Phillip's introduction on the night.

Philip has been instrumental in funding major construction renovation and other improvement project at St. George's College. The present front entrance is funded by Phillip to the tune of some J$20 million.
   Professor Robert 'Bobby' Hill, Class 1959 is a renowned historian. He is a Professor Emeritus of History and Professor of Research at UCLA. He is "The Expert" on Marcus Garvey and Pan- Africanism, and is sought after worldwide as a lecturer and presenter. His interest in modern history was spurned by his well-known uncles Frank Hill, a journalist and Ken Hill, Mayor of Kingston and politician. In high school he recalled that he was encouraged to read widely and this led him to start his work in history research.  Incidentally, his cousin Anthony Hill is probably the most outstanding school boy footballer STGC has ever produced. John Barnes, well known footballer is his nephew.
  Clovis 'Metty' Metcalfe, Class 1961 recalled that he started slowly in school. At one point, he questioned if he could actually finish. However, even when he slipped, he always found the strength to move on.  In his words, St. George's College taught him that when you fall, 'you pick yourself up, move on and try even harder'. It was a philosophy that would drive him in future years. A successful banker and business man, he was the manager to a number of Manning Cup teams and a contributor to projects taken on at STGC
   Howard Mitchell, Class 1967 is the present President of the PSOJ. An attorney-at-law by training, he operated a very successful practice specializing in commercial law. A very successful business man, he has shown himself to be adept in restructuring companies and putting in good management systems where it didn't exist. He has done much work for the Mustard Seed Community and the St. Patrick's Foundation.  As the PSOJ head, he has been vocal in the call for good governance and the fight against corruption. He is an outstanding public figure.

The STGC family salutes and congratulates these four outstanding Georgians for their contribution.

STGC Photography

Monday, October 1, 2018

Int'l Day of Older Persons

Photo shows highlights of last week's CCRP 2018 Living Legacy Awards event honouring Nurse Joy Crooks, Dr Jean Small, Hon. Glen Christian. They are pictured here with Sponsor Butch Hendrickson, Chairman of National Baking Company, Hon Shahine Robinson, Minister of Labour & Social Security and Hon Bruce Golding, former Prime Minister of Jamaica.

Message from Mona Ageing & Wellness Centre

Each year October 1 is observed as International Day of Older Persons. The theme for this year's observance is "Celebrating Older Human Rights Champions" with the aim to acknowledge the contribution of advocates and champions of human rights and:

       "*Promote* the rights enshrined in the [Universal Declaration of Human Rights] and what it means in the daily lives of older persons;


       *Raise* the visibility of older people as participating members of society committed to improving the enjoyment of human rights in many areas of life and not just those that affect them immediately;


       *Reflect* on progress and challenges in ensuring full and equal enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms by older persons; and


       *Engage* broad audiences across the world and mobilize people for human rights at all stages of life."

We at the Mona Ageing and Wellness Centre salute you for your invaluable contribution to our society. We urge you to continue to let your voices be heard and your presence felt in all spheres of society.

Annie  Watkins

Mona Ageing and Wellness Centre              
The University of the West Indies, Mona
3 Gibraltar Camp Way                                  
Kingston 7, Jamaica                                     
Office: 1-876-970-6634
Direct: 1-876-970-6635