Jamaicans urged to ‘ partner with each other’ to build their homeland

Janice Miller High Commissioner Senator Kamina Johnson Smith

“One han caan clap.”

That was the message from Jamaica’s foreign affairs  minister, Senator  Kamina Johnson Smith, at the Canadian launch on Tuesday night of the Jamaica  55 Diaspora Conference.

Addressing more than a  hundred Jamaicans at the Eaton Chelsea hotel in Toronto, the foreign minister noted the theme of the  conference: “Partnering for growth.”

“This theme acknowledges the importance of working collaboratively to build our beloved homeland,” she said.

“As Jamaicans we are known for our strong sense of identity and affinity – we have a love and passion for Jamaica and all things Jamaican. My fellow Jamaicans, we do need each other to grow and thrive,” she told the gathering.

” We must partner with each other for the robust and sustainable growth and development of our common heritage –  Jamaica , land we love,” she  said.

The foreign minister  pointed out that this year’s  Diaspora Conference, to be held in Kingston, Jamaica July 23-27, ” present a platform to achieve our goal of deepening the involvement of Jamaicans overseas in transformational growth and nation building.”

Senator Johnson Smith reported that “the process of  strengthening the institutional mechanisms to engage the Diaspora has begun in earnest.


Jamaica’s Foreign Affairs Minister Senator Kamina Johnson Smith (right) receives gift from Ms
Aliecia Taylor of the Jamaica Consulate in Toronto


“A Diaspora Engagement Task Force has been established by the Economic Growth Council (EGC) with a focus on harnessing the skills, expertise and knowledge of our Diaspora worldwide.


“As part of our efforts to streamline this process, the membership of this Task Force is broad-based, comprising various Ministries, Departments and Agencies, as well as Diaspora representatives.”

She also reported that The Task Force is currently pursing recommended growth initiatives contained in the EGC’s Call to Action, “such as the establishment of a Fast-Track/ One-Stop Shop coordinating agency of all the major government agencies to address all Diaspora and investor requests and initiatives; the implementation of the Global Immigration Service Card, as well as assessing how the relationship between the Diaspora and Jamaica can be optimized. ”

The foreign minister reminded Jamaicans that this year’s Conference comes at ” a very significant juncture, coinciding with the commemoration of Jamaica’s 55th year of Independence.

“Fifty five years of nationhood is an important milestone to acknowledge, to take stock and celebrate our resilience and achievements as a people..”

She also noted  that in recognition of the importance of the Diaspora, the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport designated the year’s theme as “Celebrating Jamaicans at home and abroad”.

Our Ministry is therefore working in partnership with the Jamaica 55 Secretariat of that Ministry, to promote the celebratory events and Legacy Projects of Jamaica 55 and to include it as part of the Conference agenda.

”  Two outstanding examples of that collaborative process which also include other Ministries, are: the ‘Adopt-A-Clinic Initiative’;  and the ‘Pledge 2 Build Campaign’ projects, which will be highlighted during the Conference, to garner your increased support for Jamaica’s health and education sectors, respectively.

Among government officials present at the  Canadian launch of the Diaspora Conference were Janice Miller , Jamaica’s High Commissioner, to Canada, Lloyd Wilks, Jamaica’s Consul General in Toronto and Ambassador Sharon Saunders,  Acting Under Secretary, Diaspora, Protocol and Consular Division in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade.