On July 16th our community lost one of its most passionate advocates for Black students. A citizen of Trinidad & Tobago, Vernon Farrell emigrated to Canada in 1965; completed his M.Ed. at University of Toronto; taught and was a principal in the North York Board of Education from which he retired as Principal of Brookview Middle School.
He was convinced that all students can learn, so he dedicated his teaching career to eliminating barriers in the Ontario education system and introducing cultural validation experiences, like Steelpan in Elia Junior High in 1975, which would enable students to embrace themselves as subjects rather than objects in the system.
Vernon was an active member of The African Heritage Educators’ Network, founding its “Focus” newsletter and “Project 90”, a Saturday tutorial program in North York. He was committed to providing strong academic leadership, expecting excellence, maintaining a safe, nurturing, orderly learning environment and keeping parents involved in their children’s learning.
He was a President of the Trinidad & Tobago Association as well as the Markham African Caribbean Association, and a strong supporter of Caribbean culture. In 1996 Vernon was awarded the Harry Jerome Award for Leadership for outstanding contributions in the Black community.
Vernon never forgot his Trinidadian roots. His close friends remember him as a colossal figure who made the first student century in cricket at Fatima College, and later became an avid golfer. When he retired from teaching, he could be found, in full regalia, playing sailor in Trinidad All Stars on Carnival Tuesday.
He is survived by three children, three grand-children and six siblings. A private funeral service was held on Wednesday July 28 2021.