By RON FANFAIR
Marilyn Ortega is angry and she has every right to be.
Her son, Ruddin Greaves, was murdered in the city 12 years ago and those responsible are still at large.
She is heartbroken that her son was denied the opportunity to pursue post-secondary education. He desperately wanted to be an electrician, she says.
Ortega, however, is using her anger and frustration in positive ways to provide young people with the chance to consider the skilled trades as career options through the scholarship program she started three years ago.
“Ruddin did not get to do what he wanted, but I will make sure that youths in our community are provided with the opportunity to go to a trade or vocational school,” said Ortega at a scholarship fundraiser last Saturday night in Scarborough. “In my close to 25 years in this country, I notice that not much emphasis has been placed on the trades.
“Not everybody is going to have book knowledge, but having trade experience is just as important and beneficial. I want our young people to go to school and stay in school.
Greaves, who was 22 at the time, and Michelle Gonsalves – they did not know each other – were fatally gunned down in a hail of bullets fired indiscriminately into a crowd outside the Calypso Hut 3 Restaurant in July 1997. The club’s bouncer was also injured in the shooting.
“They just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time,” the now retired Toronto Police Service detective Mark Mendelson said at the time.
Greaves had left home earlier in the afternoon with his stepfather, Lennox Ortega, to attend a family barbecue. Ortega later dropped Greaves and his childhood friend, Callon Gibson, at the nightclub.
The deceased was in Canada just four months after migrating from Trinidad & Tobago and was expecting to begin electrical engineering studies in the fall of that year. He also had planned to return to T & T to wed his fiancée on January 1, 1998.
Ortega still remembers her son as a fun loving lad who was excited to be reunited with his family and was purposefully settling into a new environment.
“I am living with the loss of my son and living with grief which is not easy,” said Ortega. “My life changed forever when he died. When I do things like put on this scholarship fundraiser, I feel that he’s with me. That’s what gives me the strength to keep going each and every day. It’s not easy. I still care about other young people even though my son is gone and I want to give them a chance to get something that he was denied.”
Less than an hour before he died, Greaves had phoned his mother to remind her that he had planned to fulfill a promise to take younger sister Jillisa, who was seven years old at the time, to the annual Caribana kiddies parade on Eglinton Ave. W. the next day.
Jillisa, who graduated from high school, is a member of New Dimension Steel Orchestra which performed at the fundraiser.