Jamaica state minister tells diaspora: ‘You’re all Brand Ambassadors’


By Lincoln DePradine

Conference Chair, Dr Sylvanus Thompson and Hon Alando Terrelonge, State Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade

Jamaicans living in Canada have been labelled as “Brand Ambassadors’’ for their “significant contribution’’ to their Caribbean birthplace.

They were commended on the weekend in Toronto by state minister with responsibility for Diaspora Affairs, Alando Terrelonge, who said many Jamaican-Canadians have spent a “lifetime in supporting’’ and building what he termed, “Brand Jamaica’’.

“Jamaicans have made their mark and earned their rite of passage in this place. I am proud of your achievements,’’ Terrelonge said, in delivering the keynote address at this year’s “Regional Jamaica Diaspora Conference Canada’’, at the Ebenezer Holiness Church in Toronto.

“I take this opportunity to remind every single one of you, that you’re all Brand Ambassadors. It is because of your contribution here in Canada and, of course, the contribution you make at home to your Jamaican families and relatives, and also to national development, that make every single one of you an Ambassador of Brand Jamaica,’’ the minister said.

“You keep the hopes and dreams of our forebears alive. You are, in fact, the manifestations of their wildest dreams and I ask you all, please, to applaud yourselves, as you continue to wave the flag high.’’

Kurt Davis (Consul General), Hon Alando Terrelonge, Her Excellency Marsha Coore Lobba, Hon Edmund Bartlett, Angella Bennet

The regional conference was last held in 2018. The Toronto event is part of a series planned for various Jamaica Diaspora communities across the world in 2023.

Last Saturday’s conference aim was to celebrate Jamaicans’ “shared heritage, promote cultural understanding and explore opportunities for collaboration and growth,’’ said Dr Sylvanus Thompson.

Thompson, chairman of the Regional Jamaica Diaspora Conference Planning Committee in Canada, and also a member of the Global Jamaica Diaspora Council, said the gathering also was designed “to provide a platform for us to engage meaningfully in discussions, and collective actions, about important issues impacting Jamaican-Canadians; share knowledge and exchange ideas’’.

The Jamaican-Canadian community, numbering close to 250,000, has adapted to the Canadian environment and “has flourished, while holding steadfast to the vibrant traditions and rich cultural heritage of Jamaica’’, said Thompson.

“The Jamaican Diaspora in Canada is a living testament to the resilience, strength and creativity of our people,’’ he said. “Together, we can forge a brighter future for our beloved Jamaica and the extended Jamaican Diaspora in Canada.’’

Health Panel: Dr Upton Allen, Jennifer Dockery, Dr Hamlet Nation
Jamaica Land we love
Platinum Sponsor: Keda Law

Conference topics discussed included healthcare, the criminal and justice system, education, and the future of tourism.

Terrelonge, a lawyer and MP for East Central St Catherine, and also State Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, expressed confidence that the conference’s objectives, such as “exploring collaborative possibilities, exchanging ideas, creating networks that can lead to joint ventures, social projects, and mutually beneficial initiatives’’ for both Jamaica and Canada, “will be realized’’.

He said the ruling administration in Jamaica, headed by Prime Minister Andrew Holness, is committed to “ongoing efforts to achieve a strengthened and mutually beneficial strategic

Front: Dale Jones, Her Excellency Marsha Coore- Lobban, Hon Alando Terrelonge, Hon Edmund Bartlett, Kurt Davis, Younna Bailey- Magalhaes
Back: Global Jamaica Diaspora Council Members – Captain Kevin Junor, Rhona Dunwell, Lisa Rutty,Dr. Sylvanus Thompson, Bishop Glenford Duffus, Steven Getten, Dr. Hugh Simmonds.
Crime and the Justice System Panel Discussion: David Mitchell, Captain Kevin Junor, Peter Sloly

government of Jamaica/Diaspora partnership’’.

Jamaica, Terrelonge said, is guided by a National Diaspora Policy, “which has been deliberately designed to empower all Jamaicans’’, and also “represents the commitment of the government of Jamaica to protecting and promoting the welfare of all Jamaica, wherever they reside, to engage, connect and empower’’.

Jamaica is “the place of choice to work, live and do business. I now refer to Jamaica as ‘Destination Trade and Investment’’, Terrelonge said. “There are exciting developments taking place in Jamaica, on the economic and business fronts.’’

Terrelonge, who is visiting Ottawa and Montreal before leaving the country, also referenced the historical ties of friendship between Canada and Jamaica.

“For as long as Canada and Jamaica have maintained bilateral ties and bonds of friendship, so, too, have our people-to-people exchanges been vibrant and dynamic,’’ he said.

“Although the vast majority of Jamaicans reside in Toronto, it is noticeable that Jamaicans have populated provinces throughout Canada, making significant contributions to its political, economic, social and religious mosaic. We must, therefore, recognize and acknowledge the many stalwarts, on whose shoulders we now stand, for their amazing contributions. They have been giants of Jamaica, forging the way for the next generation, right here in Canada.’’