By RON FANFAIR
Too many young people are complacent and disengaged in a video game era where you can press reset and start over again without suffering consequences, says Toronto Police Service board member Hamlin Grange.
“I believe it is our responsibility as a community and as a city to help our youth to be more engaged in the world around them,” he said in his keynote address at Our Lady of Good Counsel Caribbean Catholic Church’s annual bursary awards ceremony last Saturday night. “It may sometimes mean telling them the harsh truth they don’t want to hear…Other times we may have to lift them up when they fall or raise them up when they do well.”
Grange praised the religious organization for celebrating youth excellence through bursaries for the past eight years.
“By rewarding these young people tonight for their work in community, volunteerism, academics, athletics, culture, leadership, multiculturalism and equity, you are sending a powerful message that these things matter in helping to build a civil, safe and sustainable society,” he said. “These awards are good news stories that will help to overcome some of the bad news we hear on a daily basis. And I have no doubt they will also change the lives of the recipients.
“I am encouraged by what your organization and many others in the African and Caribbean communities are doing. I am, however, less impressed with what the overall business community is doing. I believe they can do more.
“How is it that people of colour are so unrepresented among senior leaders in a city that brags about diversity being its strength and is considered among the most multicultural and multiracial in the world?” asked Grange, a founding member of the Canadian Association of Black Journalists (CABJ). “The absence of people of colour is even greater in television and newspaper newsrooms.”
The community, Grange said, has become complacent and is accepting things as they are rather than forcefully and strategically advocating for the way they would like things to be.
“We know how important role models are for our young people, yet there are very few role models in some of the more significant institutions in our city,” he said. “That’s not good enough.”
This year’s bursary award winners were Jeahlisa Bridgeman, Kristian Fernandez-Brown, Tyra Jackson, Kelisha Layne, Shanna Joseph-Campbell and Claudianna Sarjue.
Bridgeman, a graduate of Holy Name of Mary Secondary School in Mississauga, is a second-year Bachelor of Science student at York University while Fernandez-Brown, who aspires to be a teacher, is a first-year University of Ottawa history student.
Jackson is enrolled in York University’s public policy and management program, Joseph-Campbell graduated from Centennial College’s early childhood education program this month and will enter Ryerson University’s social work program in September and Sarjue and Layne attend York University.
A Jarvis Collegiate graduate, Sarjue just completed her first-year of psychology studies and 20-year-old Layne is in the sociology program.
The bursaries were presented in the name of Kathleen Jackman, a member of the Order of Dominican Sisters, who came to Canada in 1979 to work as a Lay Sister at Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church. She was diagnosed with cancer in 1982 and died in January 1985, just eight days after returning to her native Trinidad & Tobago.
The church has donated nearly $50,000 in academic awards in the past 11 years.