Bob Marley Day celebrated in Toronto


Toronto Police Service deputy chief Keith Forde has joined retired politician/diplomat and former Ontario House Speaker Alvin Curling as the only two-time winners of the Bob Marley Day awards which were established 19 years ago.

Forde was honoured the first time for becoming Canada’s first Black deputy chief in August 2005. Last September, Jamaican-born Peter Sloly was promoted to the organization’s second highest rank.

Bob Marley Day event organizer Courtney Betty credits Forde with playing an important role in Sloly’s promotion.

“We wanted to recognize Keith again because, not only did he rise to become the first deputy chief but he did something even more remarkable and that was reaching out and mentoring Sloly to replace him,” said Betty. “When this event started, the highest ranking Black police officer was a Staff Inspector (Forde). Now, there are two African-Canadian deputies.

“In this city, we have seen a growth and development in the past two decades that have been extremely positive and we feel that somehow Bob Marley Day has played a small role in helping Toronto to recognize and celebrate its multicultural heritage. This event has become an integral part of this city and the individuals we are honouring today, in many ways, reflect the philosophy of Bob Marley.”

Other Bob Marley Day award recipients included Black Business and Professional Association president Pauline Christian, Wilfrid Laurier University associate professor Dr. Franklin Ramsoomair, Toronto Police Service Board member and Canadian Association of Black Journalists founder Hamlin Grange, recording artist K’naan, Second Chance Scholarship Foundation board member Rick Gosling and Canadian Aboriginal & Minority Supplier Council president Orrin Benn.

“Bob Marley is an icon, inspiration and a spirit that will live on forever,” said Benn. “When I think of the range of music and poetry he has left us and the fact that they can be played at any point in time and it comes back to you, it makes someone like me feel extremely pleased and privileged to be associated with Bob Marley.”

Toronto District School Board director Dr. Chris Spence was also bestowed with an award. Last year, outgoing director Gerry Connelly was presented with the honour.

“The TDSB recognizes that children are living messages that we send to a time we will not see and the message that we have to send by way of our kids is one of hope because that is what drives improvement,” said Spence. “Improving our schools and ultimately our students’ life outcome is what we are all hoping for, for the future. I am deeply committed to meeting all the challenges, and there are many, so that all students have an equal opportunity to be successful.”

Born on February 6, 1945, Marley succumbed to cancer in a Miami hospital in 1981.

Outgoing Mayor David Miller and Nia Betty, who celebrated her eighth birthday last Friday, read a proclamation declaring February 6 Bob Marley Day in Toronto.

“In his 36 years, he created a legacy of socially observant music which continues to inspire hope and acceptance around the world,” said Miller who presented the proclamation to Marley’s widow, Rita Marley and her daughter Sharon.


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