Harry Jerome Awards 2018
By Lincoln DePradine
Luke Welch, a recording pianist, is Canadian and he’s Black. He’s a music prodigy and one of the best in the world at what he does, and Welch has been honoured by the Black Business and Profession Association (BBPA).
Welch and more than a dozen other people, of various ages and all high achievers and very successful in their fields of Endeavour, were recognized last Saturday by the BBPA that presented them with Harry Jerome Awards.
Welch, who grew up in Mississauga, received the Arts Award. “He played his first public performance at age seven, later completed Bachelor and Master of Music degrees at the University of Western Ontario in Canada, and accomplished further graduate studies in the Netherlands,’’ reads the BBPA’s biography of Welch. “He has performed extensively on the international stage including appearances in Canada, United States of America, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Italy, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and New Zealand.’’
Other honorees, at the event, held at the International Centre in Mississauga, were Nadia Hamilton (Youth Entrepreneur Award); Kien Crosse (Academics Award); Rowan Barrett Jr. (Athletics Award); Lamont Wiltshire and Odeen Eccelston (Business Award); Jenny Gumbs (Public Advocacy Award); Carolyn Marful (Leadership Award); Dr Yabome Gilpin-Jackson (Professional Excellence Award); Jully Black (Entertainment Award); Mike Yorke (Diversity Award); Keith Merith (Community Service Award); Matt Galloway (Media Award); Floydeen Charles Fridel (Health Science Award); Dr. Kwame McKenzie (Trailblazers Award); Pamela Appelt (Lifetime Achievement Award); and Pauline Christine, who once headed the BBPA, received the President’s Award.
In addition, posthumous awards were made in remembrance of the late Dr. Howard McCurdy and Gus (Augusta) Josephs.
“The Harry Jerome Awards are a beacon that acknowledges what we can accomplish, in spite of our many challenges as African-Canadians,’’ said Nadine Spencer, president of the BBPA. “We stand proudly on the broad shoulders of those who have come before us and those who continue to work on behalf of our community.’’
The BBPA’s mandate, according to Spencer, is to “address equity and opportunity for the Black community in business, employment, education and economic development’’.
The theme of this year’s Awards ceremony – the 36th annual – was “Our Legacy’’.
“When I look at the recipients of the 2018 Harry Jerome Awards, I see a new legacy birthing,’’ said keynote speaker Teneisha Campbell. “We have among us doctors, scholars, scientists, inventors, business owners, entertainers, acclaimed musicians and the top-scouted NCAA basketball player in the nation (Rowan Barrett Jr.),’’ she added.
“Despite all the negative labels that have been placed on African people from Canada to America and beyond, these recipients continue to fight to change our image in Canada and around the world. They are creating a more positive future for our youth. I am excited about the new legacy we are building for generations to come.’’
Campbell is among several actors, of Caribbean ancestry, featured in “Black Panther’’, the blockbuster Disney-Marvel movie.
Like fellow “Black Panther’’ actors Winston Duke and Sekani Solomon, she hails from Trinidad & Tobago.
In congratulating the Harry Jerome Award recipients, Campbell told them they are being honoured because they “continue to uplift and help people in the African-Canadian community’’.
“Our new legacy is now,’’ she emphasized. “Don’t quit or get weary when adversaries arise. Let your love for change continue to drive you forward.’’
Jerome, after whom the awards are named, was a top Canadian sprinter and an Olympic medalist, who also represented the country at the Pan American and Commonwealth Games.
A graduate of the University of Oregon, Jerome also worked with the ministry of sports of Canada and received the order of Canada in 1971. He died in 1982. He was 42.
BBPA founder, businessman and author Denham Jolly, was among those in the packed hall attending this year’s 36th Annual BBPA Harry Jerome Awards.
Others included politicians from the three levels of governments. All three main provincial parties – Liberals, New Democrats and Conservatives – that will be contesting Ontario’s upcoming general elections were represented at the event.