‘Please do not hesitate to reach out’ – Jamaica High Commissioner

By Lincoln DePradine

Jamaica’s two top diplomats in Canada, Marsha Coore Lobban and Kurt Davis, have repeatedly stressed a common message to the Jamaican community here. They want Jamaican-Canadians to “reach out’’ and keep in constant contact with them.

Marsha Coore Lobban and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

“Please do not hesitate to reach out and connect,’’ Coore Lobban, who is based in Ottawa as High Commissioner to Canada, said in Toronto last Friday.

She and Davis, Consul General to Toronto, were the guests of honour at a “Community Welcome Reception’’ at the Jamaican Canadian Centre on Arrow Road.

They assumed their positions about two months ago, with Coore Lobban replacing Sharon Miller; and Davis taking over from Lincoln Downer, who is now Jamaica’s High Commissioner to Nigeria.

Consul General Kurt Davis

“Let us seek to be impactful and let us continue to lift our flag high,’’ said Coore Lobban, who presented her Letter of Introduction to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on October 16 in Ottawa.

The evening’s program, of speeches and entertainment, attracted participants from inside and outside the Jamaica community, including representatives of the Caribbean Consular Corps.

Educator Luther Brown, president of MICO Alumni Association and a member of the Alliance of Jamaican Alumni Associations, welcomed Davis and Coore Lobban in a “big, boonoonoonoos, tallawah way’’.

Other speakers extending welcoming remarks included Jamaican Canadian Association president, David Betty; businessman Courtney Grant; and Claude Thompson, regional manager of JN Money Transfer.

Jamaican-born Brampton councilor Garnett Manning delivered to Davis and Coore Lobban letters from Mayor Patrick Brown, inviting them to visit Brampton “to see firsthand the incredible impact the Jamaican community has made in the growth and development of Canada’s 9th largest city’’.

Manning, a senior advisor in the mayor’s office, said more than 95,000 Jamaicans live in Brampton.

His aim as a diplomat, said Davis, is to “build on the excellent foundation’’ that has been established by previous consuls general, and also to maintain “strong partnerships’’ with groups and individuals including businesses, community organizations, students, activists, Diaspora groups, artistes, and churches.

“I want to be engaged with everybody’’ and to be “out there with you, on the ground, finding out what is happening, getting involved in what you are doing, helping to support you at what you are doing’’, said Davis.

“I want to assure you that I am here to serve you. Our office is open to you and we welcome your support; we welcome your suggestions, we welcome your thoughts, we welcome your ideas,’’ he added. “Feel free to reach out, feel free to engage; pour in, reach in, connect. I’m ready to hear from you.’’

His message was reiterated by High Commissioner Coore Lobban, who said that she and Davis “stand ready’’ to “engage and work with each and every one of you with a view to enabling an even stronger, more cohesive and powerful and sustainable partnership that younger generations will be inspired to join and support for years to come’’.

Coore Lobban expressed “deep appreciation’’ for the “active role played by the global Diaspora’’, including Jamaicans in Canada, in providing “invaluable support in the process of nation-building over in Jamaica, as well as in the countries in which you now reside’’.

According to Coore Lobban, she’s “honoured to serve my country in this capacity as high commissioner for Jamaica to Canada’’, which has been a “strong and strategic partner and development ally to Jamaica at the multilateral level’’.

Canada, too, is one of Jamaica’s “most important bilateral partners and home to over 300,000 Jamaicans, more than two-thirds of which reside here in the Greater Toronto Area,’’ added Coore Lobban.

“Canada was among the first set of countries that Jamaica established diplomatic relations with, immediately after becoming independent. Since then, our relations have remained strong, with mutually beneficial cooperation’’ spanning several sectors, said Coore Lobban.