By RON FANFAIR
Few can appreciate the pride and satisfaction that comes with service to country and community. Michael Lashley is one of the few.
After reaching the age of 60 five years ago which is the compulsory retirement age for Trinidad & Tobago public servants, the former twin-island republic consul general, who is fluent in Spanish and French, now advises community organizations and is a member of A Different Booklist Cultural Centre.
Lashley was one of two recipients of a Community Award presented by the Trinidad & Tobago Association of Ontario (TTAO) at its annual fundraising carnival brunch. The other award went to Linden King
“When you look at their body of work giving back, they are both deserving of this honour,” said TTAO president, Horace Thorne. “They are very active and doing everything they can to ensure that our community reaps the rewards of their benevolence.”
Lashley was a member of the T & T diplomatic service for nearly three decades before retiring in 2011.
“This award stands out because it is coming from a group that has been very active,” he said. “They are dedicated to making sure that not only the community does well, but the young people. Their emphasis on embracing youths is something I strongly support.”
Born and raised in Belmont, just outside of Port of Spain, Lashley – who is an interpreter and writes a weekly column for the Caribbean Camera newspaper – said community service wasn’t an option.
“It was something you grew up with,” he said. “It was a way of life and you just did it.”
After graduating from St. Mary’s College and the University of Caen in France with two degrees each in Spanish and French Literature & Linguistics, Lashley did post-graduate studies in international relations before joining his country’s foreign service in 1977. He spent three years in Guyana as second secretary and acting high commissioner and four years as first secretary in his country’s permanent mission in Geneva before returning home to serve as deputy director of the Americas division and director of the European division and administration.
Lashley was assigned to Venezuela for six years where he served as minister counsellor and charge d’affaires before coming to Toronto in 2004 to finish his Foreign Service career as consul general, dean of the Consular Corps of Toronto and chair of the Consular Corps Association of Toronto.
King, who migrated with his family from Guyana 44 years ago, collected and donated hundreds of pounds of food for the Eden Community Food Bank, coached the city’s Warriors Football Club and North Baseball Association teams and was a Peel Multicultural Council adviser and a member of the City of Mississauga Cycling Advisory Committee.
He was the 2015 Mississauga Citizen of the Year.
A Mississauga Arts Council, Safe City Mississauga, Mississauga Youth Games and CBW non-profit housing board member, King spent 10 years each with Toronto Hydro and Oracle before joining Bell Canada eight years ago as a senior manager responsible for contact centre operations.
When he’s not busy working or volunteering in Mississauga, King spends time during the summer in mas’ camps designing costumes for the annual carnival.
The TTAO also presented scholarships to high school graduates, Dene Pellington, Chauntae De Gannes, Justine Ricketts and Jared Bolden.
Pellington graduated from Lincoln Alexander Secondary School and is enrolled at McMaster University. The daughter of immigrants from Jamaica and Guyana is a lifeguard and swimming instructor in Mississauga where she was born and raised. She also volunteers at a local day care and food bank.
A graduate of Notre Dame Catholic Secondary School in Ajax, De Gannes – whose mother Martha De Gannes is a Justice of the Peace – plans to become a crown attorney after pursuing undergraduate studies at Queen’s University and completing law school.
Ricketts, who graduated from Cawthra Park Secondary School and is enrolled in Carleton University’s journalism program, won a school-wide photography competition and has a first degree black belt in taekwondo.
Enrolled in Sheridan College, Bolden graduated from Philip Pocock Catholic Secondary School.
“Any scholarship or bursary that promotes excellence and allows young people like me to pursue higher education is special,” Bolden, who was an event service host at last year’s Pan American Games, said.