By RON FANFAIR
Reading Share newspaper six years ago alerted Linda Foxton to the fact that the Jamaica Canadian Association (JCA) has a vibrant seniors club, which she promptly joined.
Last Sunday, the retired registered nurse was among five women honoured at the JCA’s 11th annual International Women’s Day “Women Recognizing Women” celebration.
The other honorees were JCA membership committee member Eulin Lewis who has been with the organization for 10 years, former education chair and registered nurse Pauline Piggott, health care worker Heather Robinson who holds a Masters in Epidemiology and Spelling Bee of Canada program founder Julie Spence.
York West Member of Parliament Judy Sgro congratulated the recipients and made a special presentation to this year’s Order of Ontario winner and Sickle Cell Association of Ontario founder Lillie Johnson who turns 89 on March 16.
“This is quite an honour for me, especially since it’s coming at a time when we are celebrating women,” said Johnson whose sustained passion as a sickle cell advocate resulted in the province’s Ministry of Health & Long-Term Care including sickle cell disease on the list of 28 genetic diseases for universal newborn screening in 2005.
In the keynote address, Jamaican Information Service’s Information Attache Carolyn Goulbourne-Warren paid tribute to Jamaican women who have played a significant role in shaping the country which celebrates its 50th independence anniversary next year.
They include late folklorist Louise Bennett-Coverley (Miss Lou) who spent the last 20 years of her life in the Greater Toronto Area, Nanny who is the only female Jamaican national hero, Ena Collymore-Woodstock who was Jamaica’s first female magistrate, celebrated athlete Merlene Ottey and lawyer Jody-Anne Maxwell who, as a 12-year-old in 1998, was the first Black to win the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee championship in the United States.
“Jamaica is extremely endowed with not only women of talent but women of beauty,” said Goulbourne-Warren. “Believe me when I say there are many, many, many more Jamaican women who through their work have made us proud…We need to tell our children about this legacy.”
Consul General George Ramocan and JCA president Audrey Campbell attended the celebration.
“The women we recognize today are being honoured for going above and beyond the call of duty,” said Campbell. “For their efforts, we are eternally grateful. While we pay tribute to our own, we also reflect on the strides that women have made globally and the issues that continue to affect us.”