By Michael Lasley
Miss Universe, Gabriela Isler of Venezuela, was given a warm welcome to Toronto by members of the Latin American and Caribbean diaspora earlier this week.
The City Hall event was organized by the communications and marketing firm Be The One.
In his personal capacity, business consultant Michael G-A. Lashley was invited to deliver the words of welcome to Miss Universe on behalf of the Caribbean diaspora.
Prominent among personalities in attendance were the host Andrew Lopez, CEO of Be The One; Toronto Raptors and Toronto 2015 Pan American and Parapan American Games Ambassador Greivis Vasquez; Miss Universe Canada 2014 Chanel Beckenlehner from Caledon, ON; Toronto City Councilor Anthony Perruzza and Elke Rubach, principal wealth manager at Rubach & Associates.
Latin American and Caribbean media organizations were represented by Gerard Richardson of The Caribbean Camera; Orely Patino and David Waldman of Telelatino (TLN); Freddy Velez of Correo Canadiense; Pablo Mendoza, CEO of Studio40; and Andres Rojas Anton of Univision.
Here is the text of the welcome delivered by Lashley, the editorial page editor of The Caribbean Camera.
Nuestra queridisima Gabriela (Our dearest Gabriela):
We the members of the many Caribbean communities in Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area take great joy in rolling out the red carpet to welcome you as one of our own.
You are the seventh, but certainly not the last Venezuelan to win the Miss Universe crown. We celebrate your successes as Miss Universe. Indeed, as Miss Venezuela, we consider you to be the ideal representative of the Caribbean woman: In you, brains and beauty reach their zenith!
Eres Politologa. Orgullo de tu pueblo nativo Maracay. Belleza de Venezuela. Hija de una Emperatriz.
(You are a specialist in political science. You are the pride and joy of your hometown Maracay. You are the beauty of Venezuela. You are the daughter of an empress.)
Among the valuable contributions which you have made to the world in the course of your duties, we recognize your dedication to causes related to the wellbeing of women and children. In this regard, you rushed to the aid of the women and children of the Philippines whose lives were severely disrupted by the onslaught of hurricane Haiyan. You also launched the Miss Universe Cordaid Fund to provide ongoing support for their efforts to become self-reliant and self-empowered in the future.
We welcome you to our City of Toronto, where diversity is our strength. In our Caribbean diaspora here we speak English, Spanish, French and French Creole, Portuguese, Dutch and Papiamento. Our ethnic, cultural and religious diversity is a reflection of our wider metropolitan and cosmopolitan city which boasts over 100 cultural communities.
We are receiving you at a time when we have just re-inserted that concept of diversity as a source of strength into our City Council, by choosing the consensus-building leadership of Mayor-elect John Tory.
In less than one year from now we will be hosting the Pan American and Parapan American Games 2015, in which 41 countries and territories of the western hemisphere will show their athletic prowess.
We in Toronto and other urban centres of the Province of Ontario are determined to follow the noble example of hospitality and international co-operation for excellence which also inspires the Miss Universe contest.
Nous te souhaitons la bienvenue la plus chaleureuse à Toronto. Tu es ici chez toi. Ta famille caribéenne est heureuse de te recevoir.
(We welcome you most warmly to Toronto. Our home is your home. Your Caribbean Family is happy to receive you.)