Jamaicans in T.O. pay tribute to Lady Bustamante

TORONTO, Canada: The late Lady Gladys Bustamante has been remembered as a humble and dignified person who was a role model for Jamaican women.

At a memorial service held on September 20 at the Revivaltime Tabernacle, her godson, Howard Shearer, said she was at the frontline and at the forefront of the women’s movement long before the concept was popularized.

“Today, the achievements of women in Jamaica – in education, social activism, politics, science, medicine, engineering – all have a connection to the role she played. And her story does not stop at the shores of Jamaica, but certainly it has inspired so many all over the world,” Shearer said.

Shearer, who is the son of Jamaica’s third Prime Minister, the late Hugh Shearer, also noted that “Lady B”, as she was affectionately called, was unwavering under the most adverse of circumstances.

“When she hugged you, she was hugging the children of the nation. When tears came to her eyes, she was crying for a nation. When she defended (Sir) Alexander Bustamante, she was defending the interest of the nation,” Shearer said.

Shearer described his godmother as “the sweetness in the Busta”.

“For those of you who remember the sweetness of tasting a Busta candy, I say to you that my godmother was the sweetness in the Busta, she was the flavour in the Busta and she was the strength in the Busta. Goddie, as we called her, was not only solid as a rock, she was the rock,” he said.

Prime Minister, Bruce Golding, in a tribute read by Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Marlene Malahoo Forte, said that Lady B was the epitome of humility, a lady who walked with kings and queens and dozens of presidents and prime ministers, yet never lost the common touch.

“If we were to identify the qualities of a woman as close to perfection as any human being can be, it would certainly resemble the mould from which Gladys Maud Bustamante was made,” said Golding.

“It was because of who she was and what she had done, why, following her death, there was such an outpouring of love, affection, respect and admiration from every single sector of the Jamaican society,” said adopted daughter, Evelyn Sangster-Barnes.

In a stirring homily, founder and Senior Pastor of Revivaltime Tabernacle, Bishop Dr. Audley N. James, said Lady B laid a foundation on which all Jamaicans can build.

“It is a foundation that is concrete, a foundation that is solid, a foundation that is principled. I applaud the legacy of this great woman, who has modeled for us the sterling characteristics that we can embrace as a people and we can move forward to building the Jamaica that you and I dream of,” said James.

The ecumenical service was attended by Jamaica’s High Commissioner to Canada, Evadne Coye, Consul General Anne-Marie Bonner and Lady Bustamante’s caregiver Effie Lakasingh, and featured tributes in song and poetry.

Part of the proceeds from the offering will be donated to the Bustamante Hospital for Children, where Lady Bustamante served as patron from 1977 until the time of her passing on July 25 at age 97. She was laid to rest on August 8 at National Heroes Park next to her late husband, National Hero Sir Alexander Bustamante. (JIS)

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