Bajan nurses celebrate with scholarship presentations


Sonya Jordan was born the same year that the Barbados Nurses Association of Canada (BNAC) emerged two decades ago, and she has been present at many of the annual fundraising awards, including the 2007 event when her older sister Trisha received a scholarship.

Last Saturday night, Sonya was presented with an academic award at the organization’s 20th anniversary awards gala in North York.

“To be honest, I was a bit jealous and I was determined to get it,” admitted the younger sister who graduated from Mississauga Secondary High School and is a second-year student at the University of Guelph-Humber. “We are the only two children in our family and we are very competitive. I was proud when my sister got her award and I wanted to follow in her footstep.”

Trisha, who graduated from York University last year, was among the first to congratulate Sonya.

“She’s doing very well in school and I am definitely happy for her,” she said.

Skylar Neblett, 18, joined Jordan as this year’s scholarship winners. The Trinity College School graduate is pursuing bio-medical science studies at the University of Western Ontario.

Nearly 20 second-year university/college students have been awarded scholarships in the past decade.

Anjeannette Reece, the winner of the first award, left Canada in 2001 to pursue a Bachelor of Medicine degree at the University of Newcastle in Australia. She received her doctorate a few years ago and is employed by the New South Wales government with Hunter New England Area Health Service as a basic trainee in intensive care medicine.

A dozen Barbadian-born nurses residing in Canada founded the BNAC following a meeting with then consul general Wendell Kellman and community leader and retired city auditor Joseph “Dan” Bancroft.

The inaugural meeting took place at St. Anne’s church hall on Gladstone Ave.

“It was basically a call for us to respond to certain needs that were identified here and in Barbados where it was felt that our expertise would be of great benefit,” said co-founder and vice-president Marlene Harewood who served two terms as president.

In her keynote address, former Barbados consul general Kay McConney reminded the organization that a milestone anniversary like 20 years begs answers to new questions and positions the BNAC at the cusp of great opportunity for change.

“It’s an opportunity to rejuvenate and forge organizational identity that extends service and structure beyond the past,” she said. “It also takes our community to a higher level of relevance in Canadian society and cements the legacy of Caribbean people in Canada, not only academically in history but fundamentally in the future of our Canadian-born children whose experience of Canada and contribution to Canada as citizens must be securely rooted in the fullness of their cultural identity. We are a powerful community of consequence and we matter. That is where our mindset needs to be for the onward journey.

“Moving forward, you do not have to throw away the past to embrace the future. Outreach, done well, provides opportunity to leverage the strengths within our organizations to deliver value beyond ourselves.”

McConney said that success, in the long run, is not measured by how long an organization lasts, but by the value it adds while it exists.

“What will your value be and what will now spring from the seeds your association has sown during the last 20 years?” she asked. “Those years have certainly reaped success for you, but that time is now a memory well worth treasuring. Its greatest value to you today is in its ability to inspire.

“I trust that inspiration will take root in your association and other organizations in our community to pursue outreach in a conscious, meaningful and strategic way that will legitimately cement the footprint of the association, the contribution of our nurses to the health care profession, the legacy of our community and the future of a culturally inclusive Canada that respectfully embraces the Caribbean ethos.”

In addition to awarding scholarships, the BNAC also made presentations to Doctors Without Borders and the Sickle Cell Association of Toronto.

The current BNAC executive comprises Joseph Deane (president), Marlene Harewood (vice-president), Melda Okoye (secretary), Ethna Lewis (treasurer) and Evelyn Webb (social coordinator).


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