Damian Marley and Deborah Cox to receive Luminary Award at UWI Toronto gala


From Left Top: Damian Marley, Dr. Mohamad Fakih, Dr. Juliet Daniel
Bottom: Deborah Cox, Justice Gregory Regis & Dr. Joy Spence

Reggae artist  Damian Marley  and  Canadian singer and actress Deborah Cox will both receive the Luminary Award at the 10th  annual University of the West Indies (UWI)  Toronto Gala to be held The Ritz-Carlton, Toronto on Saturday April 6.

The Luminary Award is given to people of Caribbean Heritage who are outstanding achievers on an international scale in their respective fields or  those who have brought prominence to the Caribbean or to issues which affect the region, says a news release from the organizers of the gala.

Jamaica-born Damian Marley, the youngest son of reggae legend Bob Marley, launched his musical  career at the age of 13 when he formed the musical group The Shephards, before embarking on his award-winning solo career. He is a four-time Grammy Award winner

Deborah Cox who was born in  Toronto to Afro-Guyanese parents, entered various talent shows in her teenaged years before becoming a professional backing vocalist for Celine Dion. Cox released her self-titled debut album in 1995. She is a three-time Juno Award winner.

In addition to the Luminary Award, the UWI Toronto Benefit Gala will honour four distinguished leaders and one organization.

Dr. Mohamad Fakih, a Lebanese-Canadian businessman and philanthropist, will  receive  the G. Raymond Chang Award which is presented to individuals ” who exemplify the leadership and ideals for which, the late Gala patron, G. Raymond Chang stood.” Dr. Fakih, the CEO of Paramount Fine Foods, partnered with Ryerson University in 2015 to assist with the settlement of Syrian refugees in Canada.

Sandals Resorts, a Jamaican operator of all-inclusive resorts for couples in the Caribbean, will be presented with the Chancellor’s Award. This award is presented to Caribbean organizations/institutions that have achieved outstanding success, or Canadian organizations/institutions that have contributed significantly to the Caribbean or brought to prominence issues which affect the region.

Three persons will receive The Vice Chancellor’s Award which is presented to individuals of Caribbean-Canadian heritage, who have attained success in their field of endeavors. The recipients of the 2019 award are:

  • Dr. Joy Spence, a UWI alumnus and Master Blender at Appleton Estate Rum. She is the first woman to hold the position in the spirits industry.
  • Dr. Juliet Daniel, Associate Professor in the Department of Biology, McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. She is also actively involved in the Afro-Caribbean community in Hamilton and Toronto.
  • Justice Gregory Regis, former regional senior judge from the Ontario Court of Justice and a distinguished visiting professor at Ryerson University.