Vincentian group in Toronto marks 50th Anniversary

(From l-r) Vincentian MP Nigel Stephenson; SVGAT President Jim Lewis; Edna Hunte, first SVGAT Treasurer; and St Vincent’s Consul General in Toronto, Fitzgerald Huggins

A full 10 years before St Vincent and the Grenadines became an independent nation on October 27, 1979, a group of Vincentian nationals in Toronto met to form an association to assist with a playing field project in their Caribbean homeland.

Members of group and other Vincentian nationals met last Sunday at a Scarborough church to celebrate the golden jubilee 50th anniversary of what’s now known as the St Vincent and the Grenadines Association of Toronto (SVGAT) Inc.

“Fifty years is a generation plus,’’ former SVGAT president Eddie DeFreitas said in a message at the service at Wesley Chapel Free Methodist Church.

The congregation included current and former SVGAT executive members; Marjorie Liverpool and Vilna Liverpool, whose husbands served as association presidents; St Vincent’s Consul General in Toronto, Fitzgerald Huggins; and visiting Vincentian Member of Parliament Nigel Stephenson.

From Left: Edna Hunte, who served as first Treasurer of the SVGAT, and Vilna Liverpool and Marjorie Liverpool, whose husbands were presidents of the association

Pastor Dennis Campbell, in his sermon, congratulated SVGAT on the “great work’’ it has done since its formation in 1968, saying God has blessed the association. Like he did with the Nation of Israel in the Bible, God also has shown grace to St Vincent and the Grenadines, Campbell added.

“Israel possessed no special personal qualities which would warrant such a choice and neither do we,’’ the pastor said. “God has chosen to bless this tiny island called St Vincent.’’

The pastor, who was born in St Vincent and came to Canada at 13, encouraged Vincentians to give thanks to God with humility.

“As you and I stand and simultaneously look backwards and forwards on this golden Jubilee, how should the knowledge and the goodness and the grace of God to us, and our St Vincent, affect the way you and I live today and in the future?’’ He asked. “The receiving of God’s grace, of his blessings, should produce in each of us a deep humility.’’

Campbell said the baton of leadership must be passed to the next generation, who ought to be told of God’s faithfulness.

“God wants to bless our land to a thousand generations,’’ he said.

Jim Lewis, current SVGAT president, described the service as “beautiful’’, saying “a lot came out here today’’.

As the association moves into the future, said Lewis, it wants it to establish a stringer connection with the Vincentian community.

Canadian citizens of Vincentian heritage also must get more involved in the political decision-making process here and vote in elections, Lewis said.

“Our kids won’t get involved if we don’t start now,’’ he said. “If we don’t, others will be making decisions about us and for us, which we don’t have control over.’’