By RON FANFAIR
Community worker, Winston LaRose, knows what it’s like being raised for part of his young life without two parents. His parents separated before he was a teen and he was left to share his time with them at separate places.
“I was definitely affected in the sense that I always wanted them to be together,” said LaRose, the organizer of the first Successful Family awards event held last Saturday night at Upper Canada College. “I was constantly trying to get them back together while having to share my time with them at different homes. That situation has an impact on your emotional and social skills development.”
LaRose, who runs the Jane Finch Concerned Citizens Organization out of Yorkgate Mall, collaborated with the Seneca Association of Black Educators to honour three successful families.
“We looked at the progressively deteriorating state of society, especially as it affects African-Canadian families,” he said. “My concern was that with a large number of single parent families headed by females and particularly with the changing status of people’s attitude towards marriage, part of the consequence we are experiencing is that many children are growing up not really truly understanding the role of the family in society and the true value in nurturing children, which is a very primary area of social responsibility.
“I strongly believe that the high rate of murders can be attributed to family alienation that destroys the whole sense of integrity about families.”
The awards were named after former politicians, Zanana Akande, Bev Salmon and Jean Augustine.
The Tomlinson family, led by mother Gwendolyn, who single-handedly raised her five children in the Jane-Finch community, was recognized with the Bev Salmon award.
Her eldest child and only boy, Corneal, works in the Attorney General’s office and is enrolled part-time in the University of Toronto’s Criminology and Sociology and George Brown College’s Criminal Justice postgraduate programs.
Sherldine Tomlinson, who has a Masters in Exercise Science, is a registered exercise physiologist and a cardiovascular medicine researcher; Lisa is completing her doctorate in Humanities at York University, Karen Charmaine has a Masters in Environmental Studies and Karen Elise is a nursing co-ordinator.
Karen Elise was unable to attend last Saturday’s event.
Registered nurse Milton Grace was honoured with the Zanana Akande award for raising his daughter, Taneshia, who is teaching English in South Korea. Milton came to Canada from Jamaica in 1986 and his daughter joined him eight years later.
“We lived together and supported one another through difficult times,” said Grace. “We were both in school and money was tight, but we made it.”
The Hunte family – mother and father Wavney and Joseph and children Jamaal and Shalon – were presented with the Jean Augustine award.
Jamaal, an exceptional public speaker, graduated from Upper Canada College and will pursue medical studies at the University of Toronto and his sister is enrolled at Branksome Hall.
“I cannot deny the supreme sacrifice our parents have rendered us,” said Shalon. “They perform their chores with a feeling of enthusiasm and happiness because of their love for us. They do not show the exhaustion that naturally comes with such work because it gladdens their heart to know their children’s future will be a happy and successful one.
“They tell us about life, but never live it for us. They teach us right from wrong, but they let us make our own decisions. They teach us respect and always make sure we show it. They tell us about big goals and always encourage us to achieve them.”