Light Learning Liberty

Sunday, April 22, 2018

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SO was honoured and indeed humbled to have been a part of an inspiring evening hosted by the UWI Toronto Chapter and delights in sharing highlights.

Spearheaded by the late Raymond Chang and continued by his wife Donette Chin-Loy Chang, daughter Brigette Chang Addorisio and son Andrew Chang, the UWI Toronto Chapter has in its eight years of existence afforded 400 scholarships and, according to Chin-Loy Chang, patron of the UWI Benefit Gala 2018 who spoke on behalf of the G Raymond Chang family, “We are here for the long haul,” she said. she also shared with SO that more than 100 of the scholarship winners have graduated with first class honours.

Buoyed perhaps by the role that the University of the West Indies has played in educating the region and indeed intellectuals, pioneers and trailblazers themselves, hundreds arrived promptly for the 5:30 pm reception.

Rum Punch made just right with the world's most respected rum was sipped; creases spread across faces as stilt performers from The SwizzleStick Theatre made their grand entrance. There were photo-ops galore plus a chance to peruse the formidable items available on auction. The buzz was palpable; the Ritz-Carlton Toronto became the centre of gravity with the distinguished — a veritable roll call — at every turn.

The pulsating drumming of the Amadou drummers signalled the official start of the gala.

Awardees and their guests were escorted into the ballroom and to their seats by elegantly-clad volunteers. A quick check to ensure boutonnieres were in place and off they disappeared into the shadows until their charges were required on stage.

Master-of-ceremonies Dwight Drummond stepped onto the Caricom/Canadian flag-draped stage where he welcomed guests and introduced the award-winning chanteuse Jackie Richardson, whose delivery of the Canadian anthem gave one goosebumps. The tone was set for an evening of camaraderie, excellence and formidable musical styling.

The honorees included: Ambassador Susan E Rice, the recipient of the Luminary Award which is presented to people of Caribbean heritage who have made outstanding contributions on an international scale in their respective fields, or people who have brought to prominence issues which affect the Caribbean. Rice's maternal grandparents were Jamaicans; and Masai Ujiri, recipient of the G Raymond Chang Award, presented to individuals who exemplify the leadership and ideals for which G Raymond Chang stood.

The YMCA of Greater Toronto was the recipient of the Chancellor's Award, presented to Caribbean organisations/institutions that have achieved outstanding success, or Canadian organisations/institutions that have contributed significantly to the Caribbean;

Dr Victor S Blanchette, Dr Avis Glaze and Dr Michael S Pollanen received the Vice-Chancellor Award — presented to individuals of Caribbean-Canadian heritage, who have attained success in their field of endeavour.

Addresses came from Chancellor Robert Bermudez, the University of the West Indies; Brendan King, senior vice-president, international banking, Scotiabank, ahead of the three-course dinner. In between mouthfuls of Baby and Russian Red Kale, salmon filet and grilled beef tenderloin with pan-seared tarragon polenta, beetroot falafel was a musical interlude by The Collective and a special musical performance by Jackie Richardson and Sean Jones.

Memorable sound bytes

“Thank you for being here. Your generosity knows no bounds and your compassion for young people thousands of miles away warms my heart, as we unite again, in the noble cause of education and the hope of the future. Thanks so much to our great partners, Scotiabank; you have been with us from the start and we are most grateful; and Kingsdale Advisors; you are part of our future. Many thanks also to our 30 other sponsors, supporters, and friends…without you we would not be here.” — Donette Chin-Loy-Chang, gala patron

 

“Show more passion... do something small, do something that will impact the life of another.” — Masai Ujiri

 

“I am here as a result of my maternal grandparents from Manchester, Jamaica who, barely literate themselves, understood the importance of educating their children.” — Ambassador Susan E Rice

 

“Three of my beliefs as an educator: Help students exceed their perceived potential regardless of their demographic circumstances. Their background must never determine their destiny;

There can be no throw-away kids. Ability and talent are too precious to waste;

Lift others as we climb.”

— Dr Avis Glaze

 

The evening ended as it began, full of optimism for our beloved region and the institution called UWI, 70 years strong.

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