Scholarship winners announced at Grenada Independence gala

By Lincoln DePradine

The Grenada Association Toronto (GAT) is assisting five students to complete their tertiary education with the award of scholarships.

PM Dickon Mitchell (4th from left) with diplomats, MP Michael Coteau & GAT President Unison Joseph

GAT unveiled the names of its 2024 scholarship winners – three male and two female – at this year’s gala commemorating the anniversary of Grenada’s independence.

It’s 50 years since Grenada became an independent nation on February 7, 1974.

“One People, One Journey, One Future’’ is the theme of the jubilee celebrations, which are being observed with a variety of activities by Grenadians at home and abroad, including in Canada.

“This special occasion offers a wonderful opportunity to reflect upon the history of Grenada, to highlight its many accomplishments since it achieved independence, and to look to the future. It also offers a chance to celebrate the many contributions that Grenadian-Canadians make to our country’s multicultural fabric and prosperity,’’ Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a written message that was included in a booklet distributed at the gala at North York’s Parkview Manor.

Dickon Mitchell

Other messages were from public figures such as Grenada-born former federal MP and cabinet minister, Dr Jean Augustine, Ontario Premier Doug Ford, and Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow.

Although Prime Minis Trudeau did not attend the gala, his Liberal Party and government were represented by Ahmed Hussen, who is minister of international development; and Don Valley East MP Michael Coteau.

“As someone, whose roots are deeply embedded in the vibrant culture of Grenada, this occasion holds a special place in my heart,’’ said Coteau. “The values instilled by our Grenadian heritage – resilience, community, and an unwavering love for our land – have shaped who we are as individuals and as a collective Diaspora.’’

Another of the messages was from MP Marci Ien, federal minister responsible for women, gender equality and youth.

PM Dickon Mitchell greeting MPs Ahmed Hussen & Michael Coteau

“As someone with Grenadian heritage, it fills me with pride to see the continued growth and prosperity of your beautiful country,’’ Ien said.

“Canada and Grenada share a strong bond, not only through diplomatic ties but also through the vibrant connections of our citizens. The contributions of the Grenadian Diaspora in Canada have been invaluable, enriching our multicultural fabric and fostering understanding between our nations.’’

Grenada/Canada ties, and the importance to Grenada of nationals living in Canada, were also underscored in the keynote speech delivered by Grenada’s Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell.

The prime minister, who was accompanied by government minister Andy Williams, expressed thanks to nationals here for advocating, supporting and representing Grenada in Canada.

In assisting in the building of Canada, said Mitchell, Grenadian-Canadians also are “helping to build Grenada. Because, we know for sure that with your success in Canada, that success belongs to Grenada in many ways, shapes and forms’’.

On the 50th anniversary of independence, Grenadians – at home and overseas – are standing together “proud, prideful, happy and united to identify, to accept and to own our nationhood of being Grenadians. For that, we all deserve to give ourselves a hearty round of applause,’’ Mitchell said to cheering from the audience that included his consul general in Toronto, Gerry Hopkin, and also representatives of the Caribbean consular corps.

Hopkin, among his duties on the evening, was to distribute awards for professional achievement and community service.

The recipients of the “Community Engagement’’ awards were Kay Baxter, president of the Carriacou Association of Ontario; businessman Junior Ettienne; retired registered nurse Joan Charles; longtime volunteer Joyce Billy Griffith; philanthropist Ashton Bleasdille; and former Grenada consul general Jenny Gumbs.

Of the five GAT scholarship winners, one is at school in Grenada. Mia Matthews is studying at T.A. Marryshow Community College.

Recipient Ramon Griffith is a student at Georgian College in Barrie. He was awarded the “Pearline Garraway Education Foundation Inc. Scholarship.’’

Pearline Garraway, after whom the scholarship is named, is a former Grenada primary school principal, who lived part of her retirement in Canada. Garraway died June 12, 2016, at 93.

The other scholarship awardees were Shinique Solomon of Toronto Metropolitan University; Bjorn Bubb, a Carleton University student; and York University’s Christian Phillip