Local groups urged to adopt Caribbean schools

By RON FANFAIR

Educator Dr. Carl James wants to see Antigua and Barbudan organizations in Canada and the rest of the Diaspora move beyond giving individual scholarships and bursaries to perhaps adopting schools and approaching universities to encourage teacher candidates to spend a few months in the Caribbean as part of an overall educational reform process.

“We need to think more broadly,” James said in his keynote address at last Saturday night’s Antigua & Barbuda Association of Toronto (ABAT) annual banquet to celebrate the twin-islands’ 28th independence anniversary. “I like the idea of educators from Toronto and Canada going to Antigua and other Caribbean islands to work with students.

“My major concern is that they will not consider themselves modern missionaries going to the Caribbean to re-inscribe colonial relations. Instead, they should work with our people in order to understand their existence in relation to colonialism and the power structure.

“We can go this route in order to prepare and provide the kinds of support that is necessary to make these connections mutually viable.”

James, who was recently appointed Director of the York Centre for Education and Community, also expressed his support for the internationalization of universities to produce and disseminate knowledge on a global scale.

“We, however, have to think of this internationalization beyond bringing students here from elsewhere and from Antigua & Barbuda and the exorbitant fees they are made to pay,” he said. “I think we have a role to play in that probably by influencing our governments to do something about the high international fees but, beyond that, by working with institutions and through agencies and our consulates here in Toronto, we might be able to invite and work with not only universities but also other corporations to make the necessary connections between us and the Caribbean that would enhance and build the kind of relationships that would be beneficial to all of us.”

The ABAT honoured outgoing diplomat Madeline Blackman who leaves here next January. She joined the Antigua & Barbuda Tourist Board at age 18 and came to Toronto in 1977 to work in the Toronto office.

A Sinclair College Communication Arts graduate, Blackman served as both Tourism Director and Consul General.

“My posting to Canada has been a long and enriching experience and it has afforded me the privilege of doing something which I believe to be so vital to national building and that is rendering public service,” she said.

The organization presented several awards to mark Antigua & Barbuda’s independence which was achieved on November 1, 1981.

Fourth-year Bishop’s University student Shawn Gore and first-year McMaster University Social Sciences program student La Keisha Thomas were awarded bursaries; University of Ottawa third-year student Lesa-Marie Andrew was presented with the President’s award; community worker Cutelin Farquhar received the Joe Reid Memorial award and ABAT immediate past president Carlton Abbot was the recipient of the Sir Novelle Richards Memorial award.

Reid was an ABAT vice-president and community activist while Sir Novelle was the first president of Antigua & Barbuda senate, his country’s first trade commissioner in Canada and the composer of the lyrics for Antigua & Barbuda’s national anthem. He died in Antigua in 1986 while serving as deputy Governor-General.

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