Harry Jerome award co-founder Bromley Armstrong will be recognized with a Lifetime Achievement award at the 29th annual gala on Saturday night at the Toronto Congress Centre.
The 85-year-old retired trade unionist, community organizer and activist fought for civil and human rights long before Canada had a legislative and constitutional framework to defend human rights and collective agreements that included human rights language.
While employed in his first job in Toronto at Massey Harris, Armstrong was an active leader in the United Auto Workers Local 439 and the Toronto & District Labour Council. In 1954, he led a delegation to Ottawa, protesting the federal government’s restrictive immigration policy that shut out Blacks and other visible minorities.
Armstrong is a founding member of numerous community organizations. They include the Caribbean Soccer Club in 1949 that participated in the Toronto & District Soccer League, the Negro Citizenship Committee in 1951, the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Coloured People in 1958, the Jamaican Canadian Association in 1962, the Jamaican Canadian Credit Union in 1963, and the Urban Alliance on Race Relations in 1975. He’s also a founding member of the National Council of Jamaican and Supportive Organizations in Canada and the National Black Coalition of Canada.
Armstrong also published The Islander newspaper in the early 1970s which focused on Toronto’s Black and West Indian community.
A protector of the rights of many ethnocultural groups in Canada, he has been honoured with the West Indian Federation Club award, the Order of Jamaica, the Order of Ontario, the Order of Canada, the Harry Jerome award for Community Service, the federal government’s Race Relations award, the Canada 125th anniversary medal and the Bahai National Race Unity award.
He was the first Black to join the Ontario Labour Relations Board in 1980 after serving five years as a commissioner with the Ontario Human Rights Commission.
Armstrong, who conducted test cases in Toronto and Dresden, co-authored Bromley: Tireless Champion for Just Causes, which was published in 2000.
An avid sportsman, illness prevented Armstrong from representing Jamaica as a welterweight in the 1946 Pan American Games in Colombia. He was a Toronto District Soccer League all-star in 1951.
Other Harry Jerome winners are Michelle McFarlane, Keneca Pingue-Giles, Kayla Perrin, Isaac Olowolafe, Muhtadi Thomas, Ileen Pat Howell, Dr. Upton Allen, LaShawn Murray, Moses Mawa, Kevin Junor, Dr. John Akabutu, Dr. Daurene Lewis, Jade Jager Clark, Ryerson University chancellor Ray Chang and former Progressive Conservative Party leader John Tory who will be presented with the first Diversity award.
Senator Donald Oliver is the keynote speaker at the event which starts at 5.30 p.m. Tickets are $200 each.