UWI to honour local community stalwarts



A rising star in Canada’s legal community, a bestselling author, the son of Jamaica’s third Prime Minister, an internationally recognized artist, a medical doctor and a retired shipper who, through his benevolence, has raised thousands of dollars for medical students in Canada and the Caribbean, are among the honourees at the University of the West Indies (UWI) third annual Toronto fundraising gala.

Kittitian-born Frank Walwyn was named one of Canada’s top lawyers in the area of corporate and commercial litigation in the 2012 edition of The Best Lawyers in Canada.

A partner at one of the country’s oldest law firms, WeirFoulds LLP., Walwyn – who was called to the Ontario Bar in 1995 – is also a member of the Bars of St. Kitts & Nevis, Dominica, Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands and Antigua & Barbuda. He and his sister, Donna, a partner and head of Pensions and Employee Benefits Practice (Toronto) at Baker & McKenzie, are among a select group of just 18 Black partners in influential downtown Toronto law firms.

“This award is very humbling,” said Walwyn, the immediate past president of the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers and a member of the International Training Committee of the Advocates Society and Ontario’s Judicial Appointments Committee. “It makes me reflect on many things.

“First and foremost, I think of the University of the West Indies which is a storied institution responsible for the development of many of our great Caribbean thinkers.

“When I consider the contributions the university and its graduates have made to the Caribbean and to the world, it is a wonder that I am recognized by it as being a rising star in Canada.

“Another point of reflection is on others who have been honoured in this way. That is where you realize there are many persons of Caribbean descent doing so many great things in Canada and around the world…I hope I am strong enough and committed enough to fulfil the expectation that this award reflects and that I continue to do my Caribbean heritage proud.”

Vice-chancellor awards will be presented to UWI alumnus Dr. Pamela Da Camara and Dr. Tony McFarlane along with Howard Shearer, Lloyd Seivright and Suresh Sookoo.

Guyanese-born Da Camara graduated from the university’s Faculty of Medicine in 1959 and, in 1966, was among the first group of interns at Barbados’ Queen Elizabeth Hospital. She served as chief and medical director of Laboratory Medicine at Toronto East General Hospital and was a founding member of the UWI Medical Alumni Association’s Canadian chapter.

Jamaican-born McFarlane recently bequeathed his Hamilton home and nearly 2,000 of his classical music CDs to the UWI which he attended before migrating to the GTA while Shearer is the president and chief executive officer of Hitachi Canada Ltd.

He is also a member of the University of Toronto’s Governing Council and Principal’s Advisory Committee.

Seivright, who was employed as an assistant distiller at Innswood Estate in Jamaica before coming to Canada in 1969, has raised thousands of dollars for scholarships through the Independent United Order of Solomon Pride of Toronto #12 Lodge that he founded in 1978.

The lodge has presented 77 scholarships in the last 21 years to third-year UWI medical students.

Sookoo, who this year was recognized as one of 50 UWI St. Augustine Campus Distinguished Alumni, is the Royal Bank of Canada’s chief executive officer for Caribbean Banking.

North Buxton-born, 83-year-old Artis Lane, the grand-daughter of abolitionist educators, and Malcolm Gladwell, who Time Magazine named one of the world’s most influential people in 2005, will receive Luminary Awards.

Lane’s sculptures and paintings can be found in the private collections of former South African president Nelson Mandela and Oprah Winfrey; Frank Sinatra purchased her portrait of John F. Kennedy; Rosa Parks requested that she design her Congressional Medal and former U.S. president, Bill Clinton, bought her painting of his wife, Hillary.

A celebrated writer, Gladwell was appointed to the Order of Canada and recognized with a U of T honorary degree this year.

The University Health Network, comprising Toronto General, Toronto Western and Princess Margaret Hospitals, along with the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, is the recipient of the Chancellor’s Award presented to companies or organizations which have contributed significantly to the UWI or who have advanced the well-being of Caribbean residents.

Ryerson University chancellor, Dr. Raymond Chang, is the event’s patron for the third straight year.

“I am again honoured to be the patron,” said Chang. “As 2012 dawns, so too does the 50th independence anniversary of Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago. We must be mindful that in the scheme of things, the Caribbean region is small, but some of its people are large on the world stage. Education is one way that keeps us on that stage and the scholarships from the UWI gala benefit is one way to assist those bright minds in the Caribbean and tomorrow’s leaders.”

The UWI Toronto fundraising gala has provided 40 scholarships for the university’s students.

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