By RON FANFAIR
Jamaica’s new High Commissioner to Canada, Sheila Sealy-Monteith, has spoken proudly of the outstanding achievements of nationals in their adopted homeland and the contributions that alumni and other associations are making, especially to educational institutions in the Caribbean country.
Sealy-Monteith was formally introduced to nationals in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) at a community reception last week at the Jamaican Canadian Association centre.
“You have done well for yourselves and your country, Jamaica,” said Sealy-Monteith who assumed her diplomatic role here last February. “You are represented in all spheres of productive activities in this city, in the public sector and at very high levels in the provincial government — and not for the first time either — and notably too in significant numbers in the private sector and at high levels in academia, among others.
“You have worked tirelessly and through enormous odds to build a life for yourselves and for your families, sometimes in less than friendly circumstances and you have built a reputation for being industrious and ambitious which has redounded to the benefit of Jamaica.”
She urged nationals to continue making contributions, particularly to primary and preparatory educational institutions where there is the greatest need.
“Each child that is saved or encouraged is worth the effort you put in at this end,” she said.
Sealy-Monteith, who replaced Evadne Coye, is a teacher-turned-diplomat who has been with the Foreign Service for the past 23 years. She taught English and Spanish at Vere Technical High School and Spanish at Glenmuir High School, her alma mater.
She promised to develop the strong ties that exist between Jamaica and Canada. The two countries established diplomatic relations shortly after Jamaica secured its independence in 1962.
“I am but another thread in the fabric of these linkages and I am here to continue the weaving process,” said Sealy-Monteith. “Our relations with Canada are long, deep and wide and it is my task to work to strengthen these ties.”
Prior to coming to Canada, Sealy-Monteith spent the past four-and-a-half years as her country’s ambassador in Mexico where she also had responsibility for Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama.
She served in Jamaica’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York and in the Venezuelan embassy before going to Mexico.
Ontario Minister of Health Promotion Margarett Best, JCA president Audrey Campbell, Trinidad & Tobago Consul General and Dean of the Caribbean Consular Corps, Michael Lashley and Alliance of Jamaican Alumni Associations president Alene Miller-Chen were among the large gathering who welcomed Sealy-Monteith to Canada.
“Our community is loyal and vibrant and we look forward to working with you,” Miller-Chen told her. “We are here for you and you can call on us whenever you need us. We are the warmest Jamaican community outside Jamaica.”
York Regional Police Chief Armand LaBarge, who announced last week that he will be retiring when his contract expires on December 12, also attended the event.