Jamaicans celebrate Independence at JCA gala

Jamaica reviewing Diaspora Policy – foreign minister

AT THE JCA GALA From Left to Right: Lloyd Wilks, Consul General, Adaoma Patterson, President, JCA, Janice Miller, High Commissioner, Mary Anne Chambers, former Ontario Minister, Senator, the Hon. Kamina Johnson-Smith and Ontario Minister of Education, Mitzie Hunter Gerald V. Paul photo
From Left to Right:
Lloyd Wilks, Consul General, Adaoma Patterson, President, JCA, Janice Miller, High Commissioner, Mary Anne Chambers, former Ontario Minister, Senator, the Hon. Kamina
Johnson-Smith and Ontario Minister of Education, Mitzie Hunter.
Gerald V. Paul photo

Addressing fellow nationals in Toronto on Saturday,
Jamaica’s foreign affairs minister Kamina
Johnson-Smith spoke of the need for a “ united
Diaspora” that includes “ all members of the community
and is galvanised around common interests
and objectives.”
Johnson-Smith was speaking at a gala and
dinner to celebrate Jamaica’s 54th independence
anniversary, organized by the Jamaican Canadian
Association (JCA).
In her keynote address at the Jamaican Canadian
Centre, she noted that “Diaspora engagement”
is a key priority for the government of Jamaica.
“It is my vision to leverage existing partnerships
and to forge new ones, with a view to encouraging
more persons to contribute to the process of
Jamaica’s socio-economic development,” she said.
“ It is also my desire that the institutional framework
be effective and sustainable. That’s is why the
{Jamaica } Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign
Trade is actively reviewing the draft National Diaspora
The Policy is designed” to create a platform for a
mutually beneficial partnership with you,” she told
the hundreds of Jamaicans present.
“In that context, we have recognized that Diaspora
engagement requires synergy across the
government ministries, departments and agency.
The policy will therefore, integrate Diasporarelated
issues into government policies, plans and
programmes throughout all public sector entities,”
she explained.
She also told fellow nationals that as the document
is fine-tuned to ensure alignment with the
strategic objectives of the government, “ there will
be opportunity for consultation with you on its
“ The consultative approach underpins all elements
of our strategy, as we believe that it is essential
to effective Diaspora engagement. I very much
look forward therefore, to your input.”
Johnson-Smith also noted that “ an intrinsic
element” in the National Diaspora policy “ is the
engagement of our youth.”
She said youth participation is critical “ in our
journey towards a more prosperous future for Jamaica”
and pointed out that “ one area of focus is
the facilitation of greater input by young people in
the decision-making process on matters of particular
importance to them.”
The foreign affairs minister reported that on her
visit to Toronto she met a group of young Jamaicans
who “ openly shared with me their ideas on
the mechanisms that we can utilize to connect
with their peers as well as the kind of contribution
they wish to make.
“Another issue discussed with these young people
was how to create and increase opportunities
for their participation in Canadian affairs.”
She referred to the initiative recently launched by Prime
Minister Justin Trudeau for young persons in Canada between 16
and 24 years of age to become members of the Prime Minister’s Youth Council .
Johnson-Smith noted that “persons selected will offer advice on
issues of importance to Canada, such as employment, access to education, building of stronger communities as well as climate
change and clean growth.” Noting that these social and economic
issues are equally important to Jamaica, she said she wished to encourage “ all our young ‘Diasporians’ to seize this tremendous opportunity .” She pointed out that it will allow them “ to make a meaningful impact on the affairs of this country in which they reside, as well as equip them with valuable experience and skills to better serve the interests of Jamaica.” Stating that the Jamaican Diaspora represents “ a major asset for the attainment of critical development goals,” she said the {Jamaica} government “ is committed, where possible, to the repatriation of high value skills for our nation’s advancement.”
“ We very much hope that some of you will position yourself to respond,” she told the audience.
The foreign affairs minister also reported that in an effort to maximise “ the philanthropy and goodwill across the Diaspora, “ the Jamaican government proposes to establish a Trust “ that will link all government entities which currently receive charitable contributions.
“ That facility will ensure greater effectiveness and efficiency in the
distribution and management of the resources that you provide for our county,” she told fellow Jamaicans.
Referring to the problems of crime and violence in Jamaica, Johnson-Smith said that the Jamaican government is dedicated “ to building a modern, effective and well-resourced police force that will earn the trust and confidence of the citizens of Jamaica and by extension our Diaspora.”
In her address, Johnson-Smith paid tribute to the founders of the
JCA and commended the Association “ for its strong advocacy and support of Jamaican immigrants since its inception in 1962.”
At the gala, awards were presented to the following:
Aldaine Hunt – President’s AwardVilma Garnett – Outstanding Volunteer of the Year Dr. Billroy Powell, Pam Reynolds and Thelma Carey-Thompson – 25 Years of Continuous Service Raphael Walters – Lifetime Award ( 40 years of Continuous Service)
The Carpenters and Allied Workers Local 27 – Community Service Award (organization) Desmond Cole, author and journalist
– Community Service Award Anthony Morgan, lawyer – Community
Service Award Knia Singh, lawyer – Community Service Award