By RON FANFAIR
The Trinidad & Tobago government has acquired a building in Toronto that will house the twin-island republic’s consulate.
Consul General Michael Lashley made the announcement at a celebration at Queen’s Park last Sunday to mark T & T’s 47th independence anniversary. The Caribbean country secured its sovereignty on August 31, 1962.
Lashley said the consulate will relocate from Willowdale, where it has been for nearly two decades, to 185 Sheppard Ave. W. during the second half of next year.
“A law firm is in there right now and when they move out, we have to refurbish the building before we can actually move in,” said Lashley. “Right now, we don’t have the space we need to properly serve our nationals and clients…This is a major step forward in that it allows us to stop wasting money paying rent, it’s always nice to have something that you can say is yours and we need a home.
“This is the result of the hard work of the members of staff of the office. It cost us three years of hard work, but we did it. This is something that all our nationals in Toronto and Canada should be proud of because it says that T & T now has a significant presence here through something that is its own. That’s unique and worth celebrating.”
There are 16 staff members at the consulate, including 10 locally-recruited employees.
T & T becomes the second Caribbean country – after Jamaica – to own the building housing its offices in Toronto.
This is the second year that the consulate has staged an event at Queen’s Park to celebrate T & T independence.
Lashley also used the occasion to pay tribute to the T & T athletes who won three medals at the just concluded World Track and Field championships in Berlin. The men’s 4 x 100-metre relay team of Darrell Brown, Marc Burns, Emmanuel Callender and Richard Thompson finished behind winners Jamaica in a new national record time of 37.62 secs. while Josanne Lucas and Remy Quow secured bronze medals in the 400-metre hurdles and the 400-metre event respectively.
Lucas ran a national best 53.20 secs. to become the first female T & T athlete to win a medal at the world championships.
“Our athletes were brilliant on the world stage and they certainly made us all proud,” said Lashley. “We should also certainly not forget the extraordinary brilliance of Usain Bolt and the rest of the Caribbean runners who shone at the Games.”
The English-speaking Caribbean enjoyed its best showing at an international track and field meet, winning 19 medals, including eight golds. Medalists Jamaica, Barbados, T & T and the Bahamas, which have a combined population of about 4.5 million, finished ahead of Canada – whose population is nearly 34 million – in the medals standing.
Priscilla Lopes-Schlep, whose parents are Guyanese, captured Canada’s lone medal – silver – in the 100-metre hurdles.
The event featured a host of performers, including comedian Jean Paul, poet and spoken word artist Anne-Marie Woods, soca artist Anslem Douglas, the Caribbean Folk Performers, the Humming Bird Tassa Drummers, Pan Fantasy Steel Orchestra, the Upscale Indian Dance Academy, calypsonian Macomere Fifi, Afro Pan Steel Orchestra and the Muhtadi Drummers.