Six Jamaicans are among 15 people to receive the 2017 African Canadian Achievement Awards of Excellence in Toronto. The presentations will be made at the St Lawrence Center for the Arts on February 25 inside the Janet Mallet Theater.
The six are Delores Lawrence for lifetime achievement, Eric Williams, politics; Marie Clarke Walker, business; Sheryl Antoinette Bernard, medicine; Kay Morris, religion; and Grace Carter-Henry Lyons, arts and entertainment.
Lawrence is the founder, president and CEO of NHI Nursing and Homemakers Incorporated, The company offers healthcare staffing and home care services to clients in hospitals, long term care facilities, insurance companies, dentists and other healthcare companies.
She migrated to Canada in 1969 and studied in Canada and the United States before becoming a registered nurse.
Upon graduation, she worked at a major teaching Toronto hospital specializing in critical care nursing and at 28 became a nursing supervisor. Lawrence is a registered nurse with the College of Nurses of Ontario.
Williams, a member of the Peel District School Board since 1977; representing Ward 5 in Mississauga for the past 15 years, he has served on all standing and legislated committees of the board.
Interest in helping kids
His interest in helping children in Peel began in 1975, one year after he and his family arrived in the city, when as the education director at the Malton Black Development Association he initiated the first after school homework club at Lancaster Public School in Malton.
Clarke Walker is the executive vice-president of the Canadian Labor Congress.
She is responsible for some crucial files in the national labor movement representing 3.3 million Canadian workers - equity committees, employment equity, immigration and the International Labor Organization.
Re-elected for the fifth term in that position in May 2014, she made history in 2002 when she was elected as the first radicalized woman and youngest person to serve in that role.
Prior to this, Clarke Walker rose rapidly through the ranks of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), becoming its Ontario equity vice-president and its first-ever national diversity vice-president.
After working in the management and senior leadership of hospitals for more than 20 years, Bernard recently decided to launch her consulting firm, Bernard Consultancy.
She provides operational reviews, executive coaching, board advancement and policy and procedure development for healthcare organizations, group homes and small businesses in the community.
Bernard is a registered nurse and a certified health executive of the Canadian College of Health Service Leaders (CCHL), with clinical and administrative experience across various healthcare sectors.
The founding president of the Jamaican Canadian Association of Nurses is driven by her pursuit for healthy public policy, community engagement, clinical research, service excellence, health and social change through philanthropic efforts in impoverished and marginalized communities.
Morris is known as Canada’s ‘First Lady of Gospel & Queen of Reggae Gospel.’
Her humanitarian work through the Kay Morris Foundation based in Canada and Ghana.
She has also brokered $1.5 million in anti-retroviral medicine for people living with HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Morris was born in Westmoreland and grew up in Montego Bay. Her parents were Pentecostal ministers so from an early age she was exposed to two important influences that have guided her life — spiritual faith and the message of music.
She began singing at the age of four and has worked tremendously to explore and celebrate her musical and spiritual roots.
The Heritage Singers, a group that promotes the development of Caribbean folk music and theater and shares it with the greater community, is making major plans to celebrate its 40th anniversary in October at the Toronto Center for the Arts.
Founded by Grace Carter-Henry Lyons, the singers and musicians gave their first performance in 1977 at the Harbourfront Center in Toronto.
The Singers started with a group of friends who wanted to keep in touch with the back-home sound and preserve their cultural roots.
The other recipients are: John O’Dell (Guyana) for community service; Rinaldo Walcott (Barbados), education; Superintendent Ingrid Berkeley-Brown (Guyana), law; Mark Beckles, (Barbados), management and leadership; Anthony Joseph, (Trinidad and Tobago), media; Royston and Claire Jones (Guyana), parenting; Dr. Tabo Sikaneta (Zambia), science; Jeffrey L. Orridge, (United States), sports; and Remi Ojo Jr, (Canadian of Nigerian heritage), youth achievement.