They worked together in Jamaica’s public service before being reunited as their country’s diplomatic representatives in Ottawa and Toronto.
Jamaica’s High Commissioner to Canada, Evadne Coye and Consul General to Toronto, Anne-Marie Bonner, have completed their tours of duty and are heading back home.
Coye, who has been appointed Permanent Secretary in Jamaica’s Foreign Ministry, worked closely with the Canada-CARICOM Parliamentary Friendship Group to promote and enhance relations between Canada and the Caribbean while Bonner donated scholarships to high school graduates and organized an awards program in August 2008 to recognize outstanding Jamaicans. She also sat on the Helping Hands Jamaica Foundation Board that has raised thousands of dollars to support medical projects in Jamaica.
“I knew her work and her worth,” said Coye, who leaves at the end of the month. “I knew the kind of person she is and it was just a pleasure to come here and to know that I had Anne-Marie Bonner as the Consul General. She’s someone who is always reliable, someone full of initiative and somebody who is not waiting to be told what should be done.
“She is someone who has Jamaica and Jamaicans at heart. I haven’t always found that in other assignments, so working with Anne-Marie has been a tremendous joy.”
Bonner came to Toronto in April 2006 on her first diplomatic assignment while Coye arrived here in January 2007 with impressive credentials amassed during a distinguished diplomatic career spanning 34 years.
A former resident ambassador to Mexico, Coye said she always have to remind herself that the life of a diplomat entails moving around the world often.
“The fact that I am constantly packing up sometimes helps to mask the pain of leaving new friends behind,” she said. “It has been great being here. I thought that the Jamaican community here was the friendliest I have met in all my assignments.
“I have, however, had difficulty understanding why there is division within our ranks and why we don’t support each other. Other groups of people have done it and they have succeeded. We are a people of enormous talent.”
Coye reminded nationals in Canada that they are the face of Jamaica.
“We spend a few short years and we go,” she said. “You are our best representatives in this country. Fly the flag with pride.”
A former National Investment Bank of Jamaica analyst and special projects coordinator, Bonner said she was moved by the outpouring of support she received during her tenure that officially ended last Tuesday.
“I am not a diplomat and it was hard for me at first,” she said. “I am however not a quitter so that was not an option. I was honoured to represent Jamaica and its brand and show the world who we are. I also forged many new friendships that I hope to maintain.”
A career civil servant, Bonner – a graduate of Immaculate Conception Girls High School which is also former Ontario cabinet Minister Mary Anne Chambers’ alma mater, and the University of the West Indies where she lectured part-time in Gender Analysis — was the principal director of the Policy and Analysis Review Unit in Jamaica’s cabinet office prior to assuming her diplomatic assignment in Toronto.
“They (Bonner and Coye) have both done us proud,” said Jamaican Canadian Association president, Audrey Campbell. “Whenever we have called on them, they have always responded.”
Several Jamaican community organizations in the Greater Toronto Area presented gifts to the outgoing diplomats.