By Meegan Scott
“Let’s pull this together. Let’s start with Canada and create a strategy that can be replicated across the board.”
So said Pearnel Charles Jr., the Minister of State in the Jamaican Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, as he called on fellow nationals to benefit from investing and volunteering in activities to accelerate Jamaica’s social and economic development.
Charles Jr. was addressing the Jamaica Canada Diaspora Conference at the Canadian Legion Hall, Irwin Road, Toronto on Saturday.
Theme of the conference: “Out of Many, One People: A Spotlight on the Issues.”
The Minister told the conference to “get on board” the initiative for engaging, empowering, and utilizing the talents of Jamaicans in the Diaspora and at home.
The rally cry was in support of Jamaica’s Diaspora Policy and actions aimed at contributing to Jamaica’s target of five per cent economic growth in four years, inclusive and mutually beneficial Diaspora engagement and the utilization of Jamaica’s talent abroad (through volunteer, paid services, entrepreneurship, and business).
Lloyd Wilks, Jamaica’s Consul General in Toronto said the most important message shared by the Minister was that “the Jamaican government embraces all Jamaicans irrespective of social, political or economic standing and that Jamaica is open and ready for business and Jamaicans should take advantage of the opportunities on offer now.”.
Wilks also noted the need for Jamaicans “to participate actively and identify themselves as Jamaicans.”
He invited Jamaicans, their descendants and friends of Jamaica who missed the Conference to “join us in the thrust to move Jamaica and Jamaicans forward to fulfill our potential.”
Among the participants at the conference were Vivion Scully, JAMPRO’s Regional Manager, Canada, Philip Rose, Managing Director, Canada, of the Jamaica Tourist Board and Sylvanus Thompson, and Yvette Blackburn of the Jamaica Diaspora Advisory Board.
Thompson said the Conference delivered the opportunity for participants to discuss issues common to Jamaicans at home and abroad while Yvette Blackburn felt that it succeeded in starting the process for delivering a “blueprint” on “how to best help the Diaspora” for 2019.
Also present at the conference were Adaoma Patterson, President of the Jamaican Canadian Association, and Jerrold Johnson, Chief Representative Officer of the Jamaica National Canada office.