Trinidadians & Tobagonians in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) showered former Consul General Michael Lashley with shining accolades at a farewell reception last Friday night.
Lashley demitted office last month after serving for seven years as the twin-island republic’s top diplomat in the city. He was also dean of the Consular Corps of Toronto and chair of the Consular Corps Association of Toronto.
Lashley turns 60 shortly which is the compulsory retirement age for T & T public servants.
Ontario’s first Black deputy minister, Tom Sosa, said T & T nationals benefited immensely under Lashley’s stewardship. He also saluted him for establishing an advisory committee of volunteers that kept him in touch with his constituents.
“You are a world class act and your tenure as Consul General will always be for us a moment of lasting and fond reflection,” Sosa, a former Ryerson University and Centennial College vice-president, told Lashley.
“You accumulated credit with Trinis and gained credibility by demonstrating competence. You developed relationships with individuals in the multitude of T & T organizations in Ontario and you discovered the needs and expectations of our different constituencies…You promoted and supported our culture and the passed on torch at the Consul General’s office is in much better shape than when it was received.”
Retired City of Toronto accountant, Viv Manswell, said Lashley was a seasoned diplomat who represented his country well.
“Having lived in Toronto for the past four decades, I have seen consuls general come and go,” he said. “Michael embodies all the qualities we could wish for. He’s a linguist, a statesman par excellence, an intellectual, a patron of the arts and he was accessible as he’s verbose. He took the office of Consul General out of the office to the people and we will never forget that.”
Former Toronto city councillor and school board chair, Gordon Cressy, who lives in Tobago, raconteur and entrepreneur Itah Sadu and arts aficionado Dr. Rita Cox also paid tribute to Lashley.
“We will miss your humour, your wealth of knowledge and your appreciation of our cultural expression,” said Cox.
Lashley said he was humbled by the outpouring of appreciation.
“The greatest joy is to see so many people who supported and inspired me and helped me to bring the community, government, the private sector and everybody together to do things,” he said.
The retired diplomat singled out the “Cuttin’ Style” event featuring some of T & T top designers that raised funds for the Cyril Ross Nursery which serves young people, most of whom are suffering from HIV/AIDS, the T & T Consul General Diaspora Awards of Excellence and the “We Ting” celebration at Queen’s Park to observe the twin-island republic’s 48th independence anniversary as the highlights of his working career in Toronto.
Lashley says he intends to remain in Toronto but would not tip his hand when asked about his future plans.
New High Commissioner Philip Buxo made his first public appearance in Canada at the farewell. He praised Lashley for laying fertile ground for his successor to build on and spoke about some of his plans for the High Commission and Consul General’s offices.
Moving later this year into the new Consulate General – which will also house the labour division – at 185 Sheppard Ave. W. is high among his priorities.