Barbados PM Mia Motley to be honoured at Harry Jerome Awards gala


By Lincoln DePradine

Mia Mottley

Barbadian Prime Minister Mia Mottley is being honoured by a leading Black organization in Canada.

Mottley is the first winner of the “International Leader Award’’ of the Black Business and Professional Association (BBPA).

“We recognize that part of our growth has to be local, national and, of course, international,’’ BBPA CEO Nadine Spence said Tuesday, in explaining the association’s decision to recognize Mottley, who has been prime minister of Barbados for four years.

Mottley first became prime minister in 2018 and was reelected this past January. Each time, her Barbados Labour Party winning all 30 seats in the country’s House of Assembly.

Since assuming office, Mottley has been a vocal spokesperson at international fora on issues affecting marginalized people and developing nations, such as climate change and reparations for Barbados and other former enslaved and colonized countries.

She received at least two awards last year, including the 2021 “Champions of the Earth Award’’; it’s the United Nation’s highest environmental honour.

Last year also, the World Health Organization (WHO) presented Mottley with an award for leadership.

“We have seen your leadership”, WHO director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said in presenting Mottley with the award. “Your voice is very important.’’

The BBPA’s presentation to Mottley will form part of the organization’s prestigious annual Harry Jerome Awards (HJA) gala, which was held virtually in the past two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2022 edition of the gala will be in-person on April 30 at Beanfield Center, Exhibition Place, Toronto.

 “I’m very proud to announce that the International Award is to the prime minister of Barbados,’’ said Spence, herself a former HJA winner.

Altogether, 12 awards will be presented at the month-end HJA ceremony that is receiving private sector support, led by TD Bank as the presenting sponsor.

The winners, in addition to Prime Minister Mottley, include Joe Halstead – the longtime City of Toronto administrator; one-time assistant deputy minister in the Ontario ministry of culture, tourism and recreation; and former chairman of the Festival Management Committee of the Toronto Carnival; and David Mitchell, veteran correctional officer and Association of Black Law Enforcers’ founding-president, who was appointed in 2016 as assistant deputy minister of the youth justice services division in the ministry of children and youth services.

Mitchell is the recipient of the Decade Leader Award, and Halstead is getting the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Other HJA winners are Jonah Chininga (Technology Award); David Simmonds (Leadership Award); Eleanor Beaton (Professional Excellence Award); Trent Out Loud (Young Entrepreneur Award); Siphe November (Arts Award); Mark Harrison (Business Award); Amaka Umeh (President’s Award); Navdeep Bains (Diversity Award); and Cynthia Appiah is winner of the Jerome Family Athletics Award.

The annual awards’ presentation is “a program to show Black youth what is possible and who they can be’’, Spence said, during Tuesday’s announcement of the 2022 HJA winners.

“Over the years, we’ve had the privilege of honouring hundreds of Canada’s leading Black business people, innovators and social advocates,’’ she added. “These are all inspirational people who have helped make the world a better place and they’re people that we can look up to.  The fact that they’re a part of our Black Canadian community only serves to make them even more valuable and their contributions more relevant.’’

The unveiling of this year’s HJA recipients was hosted at the King Street head office of the Globe and Mail, which is partnering with the BBPA as part of a diversity outreach by the newspaper.

In collaborating with BBPA, the Globe and Mail is showing that it understands the community’s needs “and that you, a media giant, are ready to spread the great work that the BBPA is doing,’’ said the association’s president Ross Cadastre.

Phillip Crawley, the paper’s CEO, explained that the Globe and Mail is focusing on diversity in hiring and reporting.

“We’re committed to that change; it’s a long process, it will never stop,’’ he promised. “It is our mission to develop editorial content that better reflects all communities.’’

Toronto Mayor John Tory, a longtime supporter of the BBPA, said family commitment is forcing him to miss this year’s awards’ ceremony, but underscored the importance of the event.

“Everybody needs to see the achievement that is resident in our Black communities,’’ he said. “Toronto is the most diverse city in the world; but, what we’re striving to achieve, is to become the most inclusive city.’’