The Gleaner, North American Oct 06 - Nov 5, 2022

FREE | PAGES: 10 | SIGN UP FOR OUR EPAPER @ OCTOBER 6 - NOVEMBER 5, 2022 | VOL 2031 TRANS-CONTINENTAL ECONOCARIBE 147-46 176 STREET, JAMAICA, NEW YORK 11434 TEL: 718-244-7447, 718-341-2900 • BARRELS • CRATES • CARTONS • FURNITURE • APPLIANCES • BUILDING SUPPLIES • MEDICAL SUPPLIES • CARS KINGSTON, MONTEGO BAY, PORT OF SPAIN - TRINIDAD, GUYANA & OTHER ISLANDS WE SHIP DIRECTLY TO: SPECIALIZING IN RETURNING RESIDENTS MUSICAL EXCELLENCE HIGHLIGHTS TRUE TRIBUTE AWARDS NEW YORK: E XCELLENT MUSICAL performances by both new and established artistes highlighted the second annual Jamaican Music Experience and True Tribute Awards held in New York. PLEASE SEE MUSIC, 3 FREE | PAGES: 8 | SIGN UP FOR OUR EPA ER @ epaper.jam ica-glean SEP EMBER 8 - CTOB 8, 2022 | VOL 2030 TRANS-CONTINENTAL ECONOCARIBE 147-46 176 STREET, JAMAICA, NEW YORK 11434 TEL: 718-244-7447, 718-341-2900 • BARRELS • CRATES • CARTONS • FURNITURE • APPLIANCES • BUILDING SUPPLIES • MEDICAL SUPPLIES • CARS KINGSTON, MONTEGO BAY, PORT OF SPAIN - TRINIDAD, GUYANA & OTHER ISLANDS WE SHIP DIRECTLY TO: SPECIALIZING IN RETURNING RESIDENTS P3: JAMPROsells boutique accomodations, agriculture as viable investment prospects todiaspora P5: Educator Andrew Campbellwants all students to feel valued >P2 By Mark Milward THE ANNOUNCEMENT of new non-stop service between Hartford and Montego Bay by Spirit Airlines is being greeted with much optimism by business interests in the Jamaican diaspora, who say direct flights will augur well for unlocking business opportunities in the two cities. SPIRITEDBOOST PLEASE SEE FLIGHT, 2 Spirit Airlines’ announcement of direct flights between Montego Bay, Hartford to unlock economic opportunities | PAGES: 12 | w .j maica-glean ER e a r.jam i -gl TRANS-C INENTA ECONOCARIBE 147-46 176 STREET, JA AICA, NEW YORK 11434 TEL: - - , 1 -341-2900 • BARRELS • CRATES • CARTONS • FURNITURE • APPLIANCES • BUI DING SUPPLIES • MEDICAL SUPPLIES • C RS KINGSTON, MONTEGO BAY, PORT OF SPAIN - TRINIDAD, GUYANA & OTHER ISLANDS WE SHIP DIRECTLY TO: SPECIALIZING IN RETURNING RESIDENTS P4-5: Five well-known Jamai ns receive honorary degrees in Toronto E NORTH AMERICA BRANDED CONTENT EDITION P6&8: Luminaries dazzle at UWI Toronto Benefit Awards gala P9: Grace Jamaica Jerk Festival NY launched with com morative merchandise ACCOLADES APLENTY J’can nurse conferred with Presidential Medal of Freedom leads list of countrymen awarded JULY 7 - AUGUST 6, 202 | VOL 2027 P6: Caribbean students among 56 given scholarships P9: Rita Marley gets Lifetime Achievement Award

THE MONTHLY GLEANER | OCTOBER 6 - NOVEMBER 5, 2022 | | NEWS 2 BY AUBREY Campbell CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA: HOURS AFTER the last act walked off the stage at the park on Char Meck Lane, uptown Charlotte, Vinroy Reid said he was already looking forward to the seventh staging of the Charlotte (Caribbean) International Jerk festival & Family Fun Day next year. Reid, a construction engineer, philanthropist and aspiring politician, said that he was encouraged by the way in which the events of the sixth staging of the festival unfolded on Saturday, September 24. “All things considered, I’m satisfied with the overall outcome, when you factor in the global health challenges and the weather. The weather was nice, and you could see the patrons enjoying themselves.” It was the second time that the festival was being staged at the Char Meck Lane venue, which, Reid said, he is hoping to make the permanent home of the festival after some improvements. Showcasing a mix of corporate and community support, folk young and old could be seen waiting patiently in line for a sampling of the island-style cuisine on offer. Off to one side, the kids were quite happy to ‘bounce about’, while the band on the stand, Pure Fire, played a lively set of ‘roots and culture’ tunes, much to the enjoyment of the audience. Segments of the festival were presented in association with Mama’s Caribbean Restaurant and Youth Hope International Foundation, with live broadcast of portions of the event on the local radio station with host Olympia D. Jamaican culture, cuisine sizzle at Charlotte festival Festival goers enjoying the food, fun and entertainment at the Charlotte International Jerk Festival on September 24. PHOTOS BY AUBREY CAMPBELL Patrons attending the Charlotte Caribbean Jerkfest & Family Fun Day wait in line for a sampling of goodies, including jerk chicken with rice and peas fromMama’s Caribbean Restaurant, host of the event.

THE MONTHLY GLEANER | OCTOBER 6 - NOVEMBER 5, 2022 | | NEWS 3 FOR ANY DATE OR FRIEND CONNECTION, 18-75 YEARS FROM THE UK, CANADA, USA, JAMAICA AND OTHER CARIBBEAN COUNTRIES. CALL PAM ANYTIME, 1-347-944-6305 DATES & FRIENDS The show took place on Saturday, September 10, at the Adelphi Performing Arts Center in Garden City and saw rising stars such as Kyle Julian and Majid Khaliq, as well as established performers, including International Women in Reggae’s Jenieve Hibbert and Myrna Hague, bringing many in the audience to their feet with exceptional performances across a range of musical genres. Hosted by veteran broadcasters Irwin Clare and Sheron ‘Sheron P’ Pearson, along with Ken Williams Jr, the event was produced by educator and musician LeRoy Graham Jr, under the auspices of The True Tribute Organization Foundation Inc. The production notes describe the event as“a celebration of Jamaica’s culture, history and development within the music industry and beyond, which seeks to honour the achievements of Jamaicans, past and present, who have shown dedication and commitment to sharing Jamaica’s cultural heritage and musical legacy with the world”. The event also raised funds and awareness for several educational projects executed by the True Tribute Organization Foundation Inc in Jamaica and the USA. Among this year’s musical honorees were Grammy Award winner Jimmy Cliff, The Mighty Diamonds, Johnny Osbourne and Derrick Morgan, while posthumous honorees included Frederick ‘Toots’ Hibbert, Rolando Alphonso, Don Drummond, Sonny Bradshaw and Sonia Pottinger. Radio personalities KenWilliams Sr, Jeff Sarge, Conroy Allison and Carl Moxie were also honoured, along with organisational leaders Karl and Faye Rodney, Sadie Campbell and Lesleyann Samuel, among others. Kyle Julian’s energetic tribute to The Mighty Diamonds created a spark with the audience that continued when Jenieve Hibbert, daughter of the legendary Toots Hibbert, took to the stage to honour her late father with renditions of Bam Bam and 54-46. International Women in Reggae, all dressed as ‘Ladies in Red,’ had the audience dancing in the aisles as they performed in honour of the late Sonia Pottinger - generally regarded as Jamaica’s first professional female music producer- before the elegant ‘Queen of Jazz’ Myrna Hague paid tribute to her late husband, Sonny Bradshaw, with jazz renditions of several classics, including the Barbra Streisand hit, TheWayWeWere. In another very different tribute to jazz, violinist Majid Khaliq delivered a lively virtuoso set, which included his own jazz arrangement of Don Drummond’s ska hit Silver Dollar, which proved to be another popular highlight of the evening. In addition to the aforementioned honorees, both Audrey Hall and Myrna Hague were surprise recipients of Lifetime Achievement Awards, in recognition of their contributions to the development of Jamaican music. Speaking following the conclusion of the event, theTrueTribute Organization founder and CEO expressed his appreciation to those who attended, both as honorees and patrons. According to Graham, “We continue to be grateful to those we honoured this year for their lasting contribution to the history and development of Jamaicanmusic and culture, and for allowing us the opportunity to preserve and document their achievements for generations to come. Additionally, many members of our very appreciative audience have indicated that the evening was truly one to remember, and that they are already anticipating next year’s presentation. That kind of endorsement is invaluable to us, and to themwe extend our heartfelt gratitude for their positive support.” Part proceeds from this year’s event will go to The Sonny Bradshaw Foundation and The Jamaican Association of Veteran Artists (JAVA), both based in Jamaica. The main sponsor of this year’s event was the True Tribute Organization LLC. Other sponsors included IMC Media, Sure Thing Productions, VP Records, Sam’s Caribbean Marketplace, Golden Krust Restaurant and Chef K. MUSIC Continued from, P1 Julian CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS Hague Khaliq


THE MONTHLY GLEANER | OCTOBER 6 - NOVEMBER 5, 2022 | | NEWS 6 By Neil Armstrong ONE MONTH into the new school year, 56 black and Caribbean students received scholarships from two well-known community organisations – the Jamaican Canadian Association (JCA) and the United Achievers’Club – to assist them financially with their post-secondary education. The JCA recently awarded 46 scholarships to high-school graduates who are now attending colleges and universities throughout Ontario. “While our tracking was not as detailed in the early days, we suspect we have awarded close to CDN$1m in scholarships over the 20 years. However, since 2019, we have awarded just under 200 scholarships for approximately $225,000,” said David Betty, president of the JCA. At its 20th annual scholarship awards, Robert Small, chief executive officer of Legacy Enterprises and the keynote speaker, urged the beneficiaries to use their talents to not only get a high-paying job but more so, as black students, to make an impact. “If the whole community even use five to 10 per cent of their talents to empower our community, we would be a hell of a lot better. We have so few people doing things for our community that are dedicated to it long term.” Small, a member of the Order of Canada, told them that the key to leaving a legacy is to be consistent at what they do and to not abandon the community. Using the JCA as an example, he emphasised that the students were standing in a place where legacy had been established. He underscored that, in the early days of the organisation, people pooled their money together and took out mortgages on their houses to get money to fund the JCA. Meanwhile, the United Achievers’ Club presented 10 students with scholarships at its 38th annual scholarship and recognition awards. The students are: Omolegho Akhibi of Toronto Metropolitan University, Matthias Beals of Fanshawe College, Kalah Brereton of University of Waterloo, Kiya Busby of University of Waterloo, Sierra Byrne of Queen’s University, Bryce Golding of University of Toronto, Anthony Matthews of York University, She’nice McNairn of Sheridan College, Violet Stec of York University, and Kyra Sutherland of York University. SCHOLARSHIP “We are very proud of these recipients as they’ve shown again that a large majority of our young people are doing great things. Some like our scholarship recipients are studying but we’re also proud of the many who are working, involved in apprenticeships, and generally contributing positively to our community,” said Joyce Temple-Smith, president of the organisation. Between 1985 and 2021, United Achievers’ Club awarded 426 scholarships valued at approximately CDN$420,000. The community award was presented to Jennifer CaveWilliams. “Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t, believe in yourself no matter what the cynics have to say. I wanted to be a role model for other black females. Representation matters; becoming a police officer definitely stretched me outside of my comfort zone,”said Inspector Joy Edwards, the human rights project lead of the Peel Regional Police, who was the keynote speaker. A native of Cedar Valley in St Thomas, Jamaica, she told the students that at times they will feel overwhelmed with all their responsibilities, expectations, and deadlines, and may consider giving up. “If all your activities become more than you can handle physically and mentally, seek out support from your friends and family. Make sure that you build a network of support around you. Sometimes you may need to take a break and recharge but don’t give up. Always remember that where there is a will there is always a way,” said the Morant Bay High School alumna. The club said that the scholarships were made possible through the generous sponsorship of community partners and individuals, such as the Kiwanis Club of Brampton, Peel Regional Police, Jennifer Cave-Williams, Drs Darlene and MatthewWeekes, and Vere Park. The non-profit organisation was established in 1980 to, among other things, raise the profile and consciousness of black and Caribbean communities in the wider society. It also aims to “provide effective and meaningful role models for our youth, encourage greater participation in community and political affairs, provide resources for adaptation and integration of the black and Caribbean cultures into the wider community, and to link with existing community services to provide educational resources”. Caribbean students among 56 given scholarships Small Edwards Some of the scholarship recipients

THE MONTHLY GLEANER | OCTOBER 6 - NOVEMBER 5, 2022 | | NEWS 7 By Lester Hinds IMMIGRATION ATTORNEYS and advocates are urging the United States Congress to act swiftly in enacting the necessary legislation to provide protection to DACA recipients in light of a ruling on Wednesday, October 5, by the Texas 5th Court of Appeal that the designation is unconstitutional. The Texas court ruled that DACA is unconstitutional, but left it in place for the time being for the judge who first ruled on the measure to make a final decision. Immigration attorney, Jamaican Michelle Fanger, who is based in Jacksonville, Florida, said that the court’s ruling is merely a pause before making its final decision and Congress needs to act immediately. “This is hurting a lot of people who are under the programme. Once again they find themselves in uncertainty. We had all hoped that there would already been a pathway to legal status for these recipients but Congress has so far failed to act,” she said. More than 600,000 people are covered by DACA, including some 4,000 Jamaicans. She said that the priority must be to provide legal status for people under DACA. “The ruling is a setback but hopefully Congress will see the need to now act speedily to protect these people,” she said. Fanger expressed hope that people under the programme will not be forced to go back into the shadows. With it now being harder for people in the United States to get employment without proper documentation, she said many DACA recipients could end up losing employment when it comes time to renew their permits. The 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a 2021 ruling by a federal district judge inTexas who found that the programme is illegal and barred first-time applicants. DACA protects people who were brought to the country as children without legal status, or who later fell out of legal status, by granting them work authorisation, protecting them fromdeportation, and in some cases, allowing them to get travel permits. US District Judge AndrewHanen last year found that DACA was unlawful in part because it was created by a memorandum written by former DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, and not by the formal agency rule-making process, which requires public “notice and comment”. But he allowed the programme to temporarily continue for those already with DACA status. In late August, the Biden administration released the final version of a rule to codify and fortify DACA in an attempt to protect the programme and recipients from ongoing legal threats. The three-judge panel of the New Orleansbased 5th Circuit Court did not order the Biden administration to shut down the programme, but it did bar the approval of first-time DACA applications. The US appeal court sent the case back to Judge Hanen, asking him to review the Biden administration’s new rule, which is set to take effect on October 31. Irwine Clare, head of Caribbean Immigration Services, a Queens-based immigration advocacy group, said the ruling by the court again places DACA recipients in limbo. “It is now up to Congress to act,” he said. New attack on DACA sparks jitters among diaspora US Congress urged to act swiftly to enact law to provide protection to recipients Dunkley Clare PLEASE SEE DIASPORA, 8

Clare said that while the recipients will not be rounded up for deportation, once again a cloud of uncertainty is hanging over their heads. “Congress must now make the ultimate decision to protect these people,” he emphasised. Rev Dr Karen Green, the Democratic nominee running for Florida’s 7th Congressional District seat on November 8 and who has helped a number of people under the DACA programme, also called on Congress to act to protect recipients. “It is time that Congress take up and pass a standalone legislation that will confer legal status on people under the programme. “How long must they live with this uncertainty? How long will Congress continue to drag its feet? If you believe that immigration is the backbone of the American society, urgent action must be taken to protect people who were brought to this country as children and now find themselves in this uncertain situation through no fault of theirs,” she argued. “Congress must act now to put an end to the uncertainty that they face. This cannot be allowed to continue,” Green insisted. Dr Karren Dunkley, the Global Jamaica Diaspora Council member for the US Northeast region, also weighed in on the court’s ruling. “The recent decision by the 5th Circuit constitutes cruel and unusual punishment for DACA recipients. It is unthinkable that thousands of individuals, including our fellow Jamaicans who contribute to the American way of life and economy, must remain in limbo. Imagine the emotional toll that the ‘not knowing’ or day-to-day uncertainty takes on these individuals’ psyches. It is both urgent and critical for Congress to enact legislation with all deliberate speed. “Congress must secure a permanent victory that protects Dreamers. Nothing less is good enough!” she insisted. THE MONTHLY GLEANER | OCTOBER 6 - NOVEMBER 5, 2022 | | NEWS 8 By Neil Armstrong AT 102, Amy Nelson, a founding member of the Jamaican Canadian Association (JCA), was beaming and enjoying every minute of a celebration that her family had organised to mark the milestone. In the Denham Jolly Hall – the largest of the three halls at the Jamaican Canadian Centre – with royal blue, gold and silver balloons accenting the backdrop, the centenarian sat beside her son, Norman, as family, friends, and politicians regaled her. Judy Sgro, member of parliament for Humber River–Black Creek, said Nelson always welcomed her warmly and made sure that she knew of all of the events that were happening at the centre, with the expectation that she would attend. Sgro plans to read a statement in the House of Commons acknowledging Nelson’s birthday. TomRakocevic, member of provincial parliament for Humber River–Black Creek, congratulated Nelson on her long life and thanked the former registered nurse for her work. Born in Spalding, Clarendon, Nelson received her nursing diploma at the Kingston Public Hospital Nursing School and the Victoria Jubilee Nursing School. She worked as a registered nurse at the Lionel Town Hospital, Port Maria Hospital andVictoria Jubilee Hospital, before migrating to Canada in 1959. InToronto, she worked at the Toronto General Hospital from 1959 to 1986 in various capacities. Nelson was among the first group of Jamaicans to join the JCA in 1962, and remains an active member. David Betty, president of the JCA, noted that Nelson has served on many committees of the organisation since its inception, and was the first person to chair the building committee. He said the current location of the Jamaican Canadian Centre – 995 Arrow Road – was her vision; she was steadfast in seeing to it that the industrial building that they bought was converted into what it is today. NO ORDINARY WOMAN Roy Williams, the first president of the 60-year-old JCA, said he met Nelson in 1962. Describing her as an entrepreneur and philanthropist, Williams said she was “no ordinary woman” and “a gem of a woman that has served the community, the Greater Toronto Area, and across the world”. He said Nelson worked in the surgical ophthalmology department of Toronto General Hospital and became the first black woman to be a head nurse of the department. Williams said the few Jamaicans who were in Toronto in the early ‘60s met in Nelson’s apartment to talk about organising an event to celebrate Jamaica’s independence. Out of that came more meetings at her home, which led to the drafting of a constitution to form the Jamaican Canadian Association. “This lady not only did her work here, but she went abroad tomany countries with the surgical ophthalmology doctors. And she was the chef de mission in each of those cases, where she put the doctors and nurses team together, and took them tomany places in the world across many continents and many countries.” Williams recalled that, when they had The Latin Quarter Club in the Lennox Street and Bathurst area of Toronto in the 1970s, Nelson was the chef on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. After retiring from nursing in 1986, Nelson became a full-time volunteer and co-founded the Caribbean Canadian Seniors Club that provides an atmosphere of camaraderie for the seniors by staging various activities. Nelson has also volunteered with the Alliance of Seniors, Seniors Advisory Committee of Service Canada, Ethnic Seniors, and, as a volunteer with Medical Mission International since 1971, she travelled to Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia, Africa and Europe. Ismay Murray, of the Caribbean Canadian Seniors Club, said the group was Nelson’s joy and she received the baton from her when the centenarian relinquished the leadership. “Your long life is truly a reflection of God’s love. Your hard work, your caring and sharing have made you a cherished friend. Happy, Happy 102,” Murray told her. Responding promptly, Nelson said: “Thank you very much but we could not have done this without the support of all the others around us, so it’s a combined thing of us trying to get our black people and our Jamaicans into the system.” Valarie Steele, a past president of the JCA, said Nelson was blessed by “the Almighty and there is something wonderful about getting older and being able to stand”. Founding member of Jamaican Canadian Association feted at 102 Centenarian Amy Nelson and her son, Norman, enjoy the activities organised by members of the Jamaican Canadian Association to celebrate her 102nd birthday. PHOTO BY NEIL ARMSTRONG People rally outside the Capitol in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), during a demonstration on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Thursday, October 6. AP DIASPORA Continued from, 7

THE WEEKLY GLEANER | OCTOBER 6 - OCTOBER 12, 2022 | | NEWS 9 MATRIARCH OF the renowned Marley clan, Alferita ‘Rita’ Marley, OD, OJ, D Litt, received the Jamaica Consulate General’s Lifetime Achievement Award on Saturday, October 1. Consul General Oliver Mair presented the prestigious honour at the premier performance of the National Dance Theatre Company (NDTC) at the South Miami Dade Cultural Arts Center in Cutler Bay, Florida. In bestowing the award, Mair stated that while Rita Marley is known as the wife of reggae legend Robert Nesta ‘Bob’ Marley, she has also contributed successfully to reggae music as an artiste in her own right. He noted that she has also been instrumental in the management of the Marley legacy, which has continued to impact the music industry internationally. Synonymous with reggae music and Jamaica’s rich culture, Rita Marley, as she is affectionately known, is part of the foundation of the talented musical Marley family. While her early career was spent with the Wailers, Rita then became a vocalist with the world-famous trio, the I Threes harmony group, also featuring Marcia Griffiths and Judy Mowatt, backing her husband Bob Marley and the Wailers. Following her husband’s death in 1981, Rita Marley continued her music career as a soloist, recording rootsy conscious hits including One Draw; Who Feels Its Knows it; Harambe; I’m Still Waiting, among others. She did a final album, Rita Marley Sings Bob Marley … and Friends. In later life, Rita Marley converted the former residence located on Hope Road in Kingston into the Bob Marley Museum. She is also founder and chairperson of the Robert Marley Foundation, Bob Marley Trust, and the Bob Marley Group of Companies. She also created the Rita Marley Foundation, working to alleviate poverty and hunger in developing countries, targeting the elderly and youth. She has also adopted 35 children in Ethiopia and has supported some 200 children in Kokkonuru Methodist School in Ghana. Rita Marley is the recipient of the Order of Jamaica (OJ), the Marcus Garvey Lifetime Award, and the Iconic Award by the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association. She is also the recipient of an Honorary Doctor of Letters degree fromThe University of theWest Indies. Marley’s honour formed part of the programme featuring an outstanding repertoire by the internationally acclaimed dance group NDTC. A second show was also staged on Sunday, October 2, at the Miramar Cultural Performing Arts Center in Miramar. Under the patronage of the consul general in Miami, the sold-out performances were presented by the Louise Bennett-Coverley Heritage Council (LBCHC), as Miss Lou was a founding patron of the company. According to President Colin Smith, a cultural artist himself, the LBCHC (Florida) Inc., was launched to preserve the legacy of Jamaica’s cultural icon, Louise Bennett-Coverley, affectionately known as ‘Miss Lou’, and to share Jamaica’s rich folkloric culture through education and entertainment ‘edutainment’. The NDTC Gala in Florida coincided with the dance group’s 60th anniversary celebrations, as well as Jamaica’s 60th Independence anniversary. Rita Marley gets Lifetime Achievement Award Rita Marley By Aubrey Campbell THE TOP five contestants in the Vision of Genesis (VG39) Gospel Talent Search is to be announced on Wednesday, October 12. Viewers began deciding last weekend the top picks from among the 21 constestants in the competition, for advancement to the final round in the second season of VG39 Talent Search. Shortly after the announcement of the finalists, Pastor Elisha Smellie, founder and coordinator of VG39, thanked the judges and congratulated the contestants on making the cut. “Congratulations to the contestants who were voted in by the judges and will be seen by viewers from all over the world,” he said. The broadcast of the final five will take place on Saturday, October 15. Voting will start immediately following the broadcast and end on Tuesday, October 18. The grand finale for Season 2 is set for Saturday, October 22. Viewers will have the opportunity to vote for their favourite contestant by visiting Donations in support of your vote can also be made during the voting process directly through the PayPal link on the voting ballot. All contestants will receive certificates of participation, with the top three sharing CAD$100,000 in prize money, including a recording session and VG39 apparel. The Spirit Award will be reserved for the talent who the judges felt gave amoving performance. The VG39 is still accepting sponsors and donations at vg39talentsearch@ The competition is broadcast live on Facebook and YouTube on Saturdays at 6 p.m. ET. VG39 Gospel Talent Search final cut George Royal, Season 1 winner, VG39 Gospel Talent Search. CONTRIBUTED

THE WEEKLY GLEANER | OCTOBER 6 - OCTOBER 12, 2022 | | NEWS 10 By Sophia Findlay TORONTO CELEBRATED the Caribbean and African diaspora between September 7 and 23, during which time the Caribbean Tales International Film Festival (CTFF) launched its 17th annual instalment of what critics called “a magnificent line-up of amazing films”. Chief among them was the debut of the documentary feature film Steadfast: TheMessenger and the Message, a biopic of Canada’s first black female member of parliament (MP) and government minister, Dr Jean Augustine. From an intimate chat with mainstream news reporters Tammie Sutherland and Dwight Drummond, to a swanky reception at the Harbourfront Centre to celebrate the political icon’s 85th birthday, Toronto was abuzz with excitement. In fact, the cities of Toronto and Brampton proclaimed September 9 as Jean Augustine Day. The Jean Augustine story is one of inspiration and resilience. It had viewers spellbound through vivid enactments that detail the women’s advocate and social culturist’s determination to become a teacher, after coming to Canada as a domestic worker. The storytelling captured her fight for the rights of women and blacks in Canada, and included interview footages of Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau; former Prime Minister of Grenada Dr Keith Mitchell; the first black Miss World, Jennifer Hosten; celebrity Chef Selwyn Richards; and many others, including several MPs and political leaders in Canada. On stage, during her conversation with CBC anchor Dwight Drummond, Augustine reiterated from the Fahim Hamid Ali film that gave insight of the impact she’d made on her political journey. She spoke about the lack of community relations, the non-communication of school boards and parents, as well as no Landlord and Tenant Act. “Wanting to make life better for myself was also wanting to make life better for the community, and I didn’t do any of those things by myself, as I was always in a team,” she stated. “I was always with the support, and I say, as Desmond Tutu said a long time ago, if I stand tall it’s because I’m standing on the shoulders of so many people who have supported me and who are supporting me. So it’s the community, and whatever success I’ve had, being, because there were allies because I work with so many people in the community who said, ‘yes, go!’” A souvenir coffee-table book of the film has also been published and available for purchase. In the meantime, as if Steadfast and over 25 other films weren’t impactful enough, creatives were offered grants of CAD$10,000 each to allow mid-career BIPOC film-makers to pitch their projects to an industry audience at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). This was spearheaded by Caribbean Tales Media Group (CTMG) CEO and CTFF founder Frances-Anne Solomon, CTMG boardmember Denise Herrera Jackson, CBC executive director of equity and inclusion and CTFF Incubator mentor Nick Davis, and festival director Diana Webley. The popular and competitive BIG PITCH 2022, now in its 13th year, funded by Telefilm and Canada Media Fund, was staged in partnership with TIFF. It featured nine contenders from the Caribbean Tales’ incubator programmes, LIMITLESS for women and non-binary creators, and the Black Incubator and Studio Access Project. They pitched their projects to a jury comprising Canada’s top broadcasters and industry professionals, for cash, mentorship, and support in continuation of their creative paths and projects. The top three winners are: 1st place Kristen Lambie – FEVER STREET 2nd place winner Fennella Bruce – BACKBONE 3rd place Asis Sethi – SLAM DUNK, SEHAJ! Solomon told The Gleaner that she is happy about this year’s result and the quality of the participants, as the invested money was well spent. “I feel like it’s important that training programmes or internships be more than just show. We wanted each participant to develop, produce, market, and sell an actual product, so we raised money through sponsors and donors for funding…. She said the winners’ projects will now get funding to start production. “I can see them already on the big screen, you know; they’re all amazing,” Solomon said with excitement. CTFF celebrates the talents of established and emerging film-makers of Caribbean heritage who practise their art across the Caribbean diaspora and worldwide. CTFF presents a multi-ethnic mix of exciting and dynamic films that showcase diverse and shared stories and cultures. This year’s theme is dubbed ‘AhWakening: Our identity in a newworld and an understanding of worlds before’. “We are also very proud that the festival continues to be a platform for the work and support of Canadian Caribbean and African film-makers,” saidWebley. CTFF is produced by Caribbean Tales Inc, a registered Canadian charity. The company’s mandate is to foster and encourage intercultural understanding and racial equality through the creation, marketing and distribution of film, programmes, events, and projects that reflect the diversity and creativity of Caribbean heritage and culture. Best of Caribbean, Africa creativity share spotlight First black MP idolised in film, Big Pitch winners announced Dr Jean Augustine and CBC anchor Dwight Drummond chat after the screening of ‘Steadfast: The Messenger and The Message’. Winners of THE BIG PITCH pose with Caribbean Tales International Film Festival’s founder Frances-Ann Solomon (third left). Others are first-place winner Kristen Lambie (right), second-place winner Fenella Bruce (second left), and third-placed Asis Sethi. CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS