UWI Toronto Benefit Awards was “a great evening filled with joy and warmth”

Scotiabank increases annual sponsorship to $100,000

By Lincoln DePradine

Mary Anne Chambers and husband Chris_ Dr Pamela Appelt_ Ray Williams

Bank of Nova Scotia, which has been operating in the Caribbean for 133 years and has been supporting a University of the West Indies (UWI) scholarship, is increasing funding for the students’ study program.

“We are with you; we always are,’’ Scotiabank’s Anya Schnoor said Saturday at the annual UWI Toronto Benefit Awards.

Scotiabank, which has provided $75,000 in annual sponsorships for the scholarship and awards’ gala since its inauguration 14 years ago, is increasing the amount to $100,000 in 2024, announced Jamaica-born Schnoor, the bank’s executive vice president for international banking for the Caribbean, Central America and Uruguay.

“Tonight, we reaffirm our commitment to the development of this vibrant region and the community for years to come, and to also help to strengthen that bond between Canada and the Caribbean,’’ Schnoor said.

Actor Sheryl Lee Ralph, who was one of Saturday’s award recipients but was not in Toronto to attend, made a surprised scholarship announcement.

In her acceptance speech, broadcast via video, Lee Ralph said she would be awarding scholarships to UWI students in the name of herself and her family.

Dodridge Miller, Dahabo Ahmed-Omer, Ray Williams, Kevin Hibbert


“What a great evening and it’s filled with such joy and warmth,’’ remarked said Dr Donette Chin-Loy Chang, commenting on the attendance of more than 450 people, including federal cabinet minister Marci Ien, former heavyweight boxing champion Lennox Lewis, and former Olympic 100-meter gold medalist Donovan Bailey.

“This fundraiser continues to showcase the best of the Caribbean community in Canada and the world, especially the diversity that brings us together for one common cause,’’ said Chin-Loy Chang.

“To date, with your full support, we have awarded over 800 scholarships, honoured over 100 individuals and organizations and raised millions of dollars,’’ she said.

“Once again I’m asking you, to please open your hearts and dig deep into your pockets. Let’s aim for another 100 scholarships tonight. More than ever, the students in the Caribbean need us. A global pandemic has exacerbated already struggling economies of the region and has almost crippled the education of thousands of students, who every day themselves struggle just to meet food, housing and other basic needs.’’ 

Kevin Hibbert, Anya Schnoor, Dodridge Miller, Dahabo Ahmed Oman, Ray Williams, Min  Ahmed Hussen, Sir Hilary Beckles, (F) Brigette Chang and Donette Chin-Loy Chang

Chin-Loy Chang was a co-patron of the event. Other co-patrons were Andrew Chang and Brigitte Chang, with Dr. Wesley J. Hall as honorary patron. 

In addition to Scotiabank, the event is supported by several sponsors, including the G. Raymond Chang Foundation, Sprott Inc. and Kingsdale.

Speaker after speaker, including Canada’s housing minister Ahmed Hussen and UWI vice-chancellor Dr Hilary Beckles, lauded the fundraising venture and the efforts at helping Caribbean students to receive a university education.

“Each and every one of you should be proud to step up and to believe in UWI’ ability to do for the community,’’ said Hussen.

Donors to the UWI scholarships are “contributing to dreams’’ and to “human dignity’’, he said.

The gala is “very special’’ and grows “stronger and stronger’’ each year under the leadership of an “extraordinary team’’, said Beckles.

“This event is a moral and ethical event. It has an infrastructure beyond the financial,’’ Beckles said. “It is the coming together of an ethical response on our part, and a commitment to university excellence.’’

Dahabo Ahmed Omer, executive director of Black North Initiative (BNI), received the organization’s first-ever award for service.

BNI was the recipient of the Chancellor’s Award. “It means a lot to us,’’ Omer told The Caribbean Camera.

“People are noticing our work which is having an impact. We have to do more; the bar is a little higher now than it was before.’’

Kevin Hibbert, Chief Financial Officer and Senior Managing Partner & Co-Head of Sprott Inc., was one of the recipients of the Vice Chancellor’s Award.

Another Vice Chancellor’s Award was presented to Ray Williams, Vice Chairman and Managing Director at Financial Markets at National Bank Financial.

The G. Raymond Chang Award was given to Dr. Dodridge Miller, Group President and Chief Executive Officer of Sagicor Financial Company Ltd.