Promoting Brand Jamaica

When Olivia Grange talks about the Jamaican diaspora in Canada, she knows whereof  she speaks.

Grange spent many years with her family in Canada but kept in close touch with the place which is known affectionately by so many Jamaicans as The Rock.

She returned to The Rock, threw her hat in the political ring and built a career as a hard working government minister. But she still considers Toronto her second home.

Grange , now Jamaica’s minister of culture, gender, entertainment and sport,  came back to Toronto last week with a message for fellow nationals which she delivered on Saturday  at  the Jamaican  Canadian Association’s 56th anniversary and Independence gala.


She reminded  them that among the missions of her ministry was the strengthening of ” Brand Jamaica.

As she  explained ,  Brand Jamaica  ” is about creating new markets for our cultural and creative products or enhancing old markets.  It is about re-visioning the ways in which we look at our creative energies and make it work for the greater prosperity of our foremost creative persons and the country in general. ”


She also  noted that “it is furthering among our Jamaican people at home and abroad the economic value of our creativity and the ways in which they can participate in this globally acclaimed dynamic.”


Fine words from a super salesperson.


The message was well received as indeed was the minister herself.


Grange, as the super salesperson for Brand Jamaica, had more good news for members  of  the Jamaican diaspora in Canada.


She  said her government was looking forward  to ” enhancing Jamaican Caribbean festivals  in Canada  and will create and market with the help of the Ministry of Tourism , a calendar of all our  activities at  home and  abroad.”



She then appealed  to” business persons and entities here in Canada” for their support “so  that Brand Jamaica can be enhanced and the people of Jamaica at home and in the Diaspora can reap dividends from the globally-certified creativity of the Jamaican people.”


We certainly have  no hesitation in lending  support  for such a plan,

Grange also took the opportunity to  invite Jamaicans to “come home” for the unveiling on September 7 of  a national monument in honour  of that well known cultural  icon, Louise Bennett-Coverley, affectionately known as Miss Lou.


The unveiling ceremony is  part of a program of activities to celebrate the 99th

anniversary of the birth of Miss Lou who lived for several years in Scarborough,Ontario



We urge all those who  can to attend the unveiling ceremony.


Although Grange’s message was intended for the Jamaican diaspora, it should inspire governments in many  parts of the Caribbean to do more  to establish closer links with the sons and daughters of  their countries who live abroad. It certainly would be in the economic interest of these governments to do so.


Unfortunately, there is a wrong- headed notion  among many in some parts of the Caribbean that those who left home  to  seek  opportunities abroad “abandoned” their  land of the birth  and that there is no reason to reach out  to them. This notion should be quickly dispelled.


Then  there  is another common view  of  Caribbean immigrants as people who often find themselves in trouble with the police or are on run from  immigration authorities and are not in any position to contribute  in  any way to the improvement of  their  homeland, especially since they are believed to be in low income positions, if employed.


This, of  course, is not a  true picture of  the Caribbean community in Toronto where there are many West  Indians who high achievers who send  remittances to  relatives back home and would be willing to play a  role in the development of their  native countries but are not encouraged to do so.


Many of these high achievers who are specialists in various fields complain that when Caribbean government are looking for consultants , they  are  just not considered.


Clearly, governments in  the Caribbean need to do more research about immigrants from the region.


The Jamaican government clearly understand the economic benefits of   maintaining links with its  nationals abroad and is continuing  to work towards even closer links.


We applaud their efforts in this direction and hope that other Caribbean governments  would  take a  leaf  from Jamaica’s book.