Last Saturday the Jamaican Canadian Association (JCA) held its annual gala to celebrate Jamaica’s 57th year of Independence. Unbeknownst to the attendees, the JCA was about to receive possibly the largest gift since the association came into being.
Jamaican-Canadian businessman Denham Jolly wrapped up his 25-minute keynote speech with the announcement that he will pay off the balance of the mortgage the JCA owes on its building on Arrow Road. He then presentedhem with a cheque for $312,000.00; the JCA now owns a building that is estimated to be worth over four million dollars.
Jolly, a lifelong member of the JCA, spoke of the association’s trying beginnings at its first location on Dawes Road, off the Danforth. He recalled JCA’s move into its new home coincided with the emergence of the Western Guard, a “Canadian Version of the KKK”. So when the uninsured building was burned to the ground, it was generally felt that it was the work of the Western Guard.
In a speech that traced the long history of the struggles and victories of former enslaved Africans against enormous odds – racism, discrimination, sabotage – Jolly praised the strength of character of all those who laid the groundwork for successes like the acquisition of the Jamaican Canadian Association’s building on Arrow Road.
“Out of defiance and great work from people like Roy Williams, we acquired a building on Dupont St. West near the Junction. This building had very little or no parking, for this reason and expanding membership, we moved here to Arrow Rd”, Jolly recalled.
Kashane Denton, Director of Communications of the JCA, told the Caribbean Camera that in late 2018 the organization decided to start a drive towards paying off their existing mortgage. Adaoma Patterson said that after speaking to several individuals within the community, she spoke to Denham Jolly who, after putting her through a thorough grilling, decided that to pay off the mortgage. “We were so surprised and appreciative we could not believe that he would be that generous; we always knew that he was generous but this was more than we expected and we thank him for that,” said Patterson.
The gala, which was held at the 995 Arrow Rd building, sat over 400 guests. Entertainment was provided by the Arsenals, Toronto’s number one Ska band. Messages came from the Prime Ministers of Canada; the Jamaica the High Commissioner of Jamaica in Canada; Canada’s minister of immigration refugees and citizenship; the premier of Ontario; Tom Rakocevic the provincial representative for Humber River Black Creek in which the JCA is located; and Patrick Brown, Mayor of Brampton.
Harold Mattocks, who received the president’s award for his work the Fundraising and Building Committees, comes from the automotive industry where he was a Production Supervisor and Manufacturing Co-ordinator.
The Individual Community Award was won by Ivan Dawns came to Canada in 197I, became the first black business agent in Canada for the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT); he’s also currently the Political Director for IUPAT DC46.
With the help of his colleagues in the Carpenters Union and Helping Hands Jamaica, Dawns was instrumental in helping to build of an infant School in Trelawney Jamaica. He also made personal contributions to the renovation project that financed and installed a new flooring for the banquet hall at the JCA.
The Outstanding Volunteer of the year was Donald “Danny” Crooks. Crooks is very active on the membership committee and has helped with the annual family picnic raising funds from individuals, families, friends and corporations. He has also enrolled over 40 JCA members in a single year.
The 30 years of Service Awards were granted to Alvin Knight, Bruce McDonald, Ena Harrison, Eunice Graham, Grace Williams, Hyacinth Wilson, Joe Halstead and Mary Banswell.