Trinidad-born centenarian attributes her long life to ‘a good diet, exercise and holding on to her goals’

Mama Iva

Trinidad -born retired psychiatric nurse

Iva Harper-Smith who lives in Scarborough,

Ontario, turned 100 on November 4 last.


Seated: Mama Iva & her brother Rudolph
Standing: Grandson Stephen, Grt-granddaughters Gabriela, Grt-grandson Trenton, Wayne, Grt-granddaughters Amani & Trinity, Grt-grandsons Shayden & Justin & Grt-granddaughters Arianna & Jasmine

Mamma Iva, as she is affectionately called, attributed her long life to ” a good diet, exercise and holding on to her goals.”

In a telephone interview on Tuesday last, she told the Caribbean Camera, that  apart from  bouts of arthritis, she  enjoys relatively good health.

But she no longer rides a motor bike, she chuckled.

Mamma Iva who was born in Port of Spain, said she was the first licensed female motor cyclist in Trinidad and used her bike to get to and from work.

She recalled that she was often stopped by the police while riding her bike and asked to show her  rider’s permit.

Her career in nursing spanned several decades.

“My career goal was to be a psychiatric nurse,” she said.

After working for several years at a psychiatric hospital in  Trinidad, she migrated to Canada in 1955.

Standing: Grandsons Stephen, Christopher & Wayne Seated: Mama Iva & Grandson Gary

She settled in Montreal and continued her career in nursing at a psychiatric hospital.

Mamma Iva who got married at 17, brought her four children – three sons and a daughter – to Canada.

Her eldest son died three years ago after he suffered a massive heart attack.

She said her husband, Clement, passed away in Trinidad many years ago

She now has eleven grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.

Last  month more than  125 family members and friends from various parts of the Caribbean, the United States and Canada got together at the Tropicana Hall of Excellence in Scarborough to celebrate her birthday, weeks in  advance of the actual date.