Like mother like son and the apple does not fall far from the tree are idiomatic expressions that are applicable to Kardinal Offishall and his activist and community-minded mother, Donna Harrow, who was a fierce advocate for Canada’s first Africentric school.
Just like mom, the award-winning rapper and reggae producer doesn’t hide his feelings when it comes to expressing his views on issues he feels strongly about, including the Juno Awards which some urban musicians feel do not fully embrace their genre.
After multi-platinum rapper, Drake, was shut out of the Junos he hosted in Toronto last year, Kardinal Offishall sprung to the Canadian recording artist and actor’s defence. In 2006, he pledged not to attend another event because urban music awards were not presented during the live televised portion of the show. He has since broken that promise and was in Ottawa for Sunday night’s event.
“We have not shied away from the truth when it comes to the Junos’ representation of urban music and everything we represent,” said Kardinal Offishall who was one of 10 recipients of the Black Business & Professional Association’s (BBPA) Distinguished Men of Honour Awards which were presented last week. “We have always been slighted over the years. They always figure out a way to kind of pull the rug out from under us but, at the end of the day, I just leave it to ‘they don’t know any better’. It is what it is and you can’t be consistently mad at what is happening. All you can do is lead by example, do what you do and hope they will get it finally one day.”
The recipient of two Junos, a Much Music Video and two Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN) Awards, Kardinal Offishall was very appreciative of his most recent honour.
“It’s always nice to be recognized by your family,” he said. “This is an amazing honour because of what it represents and the distinguished company I am here sharing this stage with. This speaks to community which my mother is all about. I just wish I could get her to slow down. She’s just an exceptional person and I am so proud of her.”
Concerned that a large percentage of Black students were failing, Harrow and Angela Wilson approached the Toronto District School Board in the summer of 2007, requesting that they consider the establishment of an Africentric school to reach students who were not doing well in the mainstream system.
After years of wrangling and heated debates, trustees voted 11-9 in favour of the elementary school that opened three years ago.
Harrow, who also advocated for an Africentric secondary school that trustees voted 14-6 in favour of last November, is the executive director of the Alexandra Park Community Centre where her son hosted parties while in high school.
Sponsored by Sterling Dentistry, the Distinguished Men of Honour event celebrated male African-Canadian trailblazers.
“I am flattered and honoured to know I am held in such high esteem,” said CP 24 reporter and news anchor, Nathan Downer. “It lets me know I have chosen the right field, I am on the right track and I am doing the right things. It’s a little bit of affirmation and encouragement.
Keen to impart his knowledge of the industry, Downer developed a 10-week TV news reporting course that he taught at Centennial College earlier this year. Students learned how to pitch stories, isolate visuals, interview subjects and choose clips.
“I wanted to give back something to individuals thinking about getting into this business,” he said. “It was a continuing education course I did a decade ago at George Brown College that got me really interested in journalism.”
Downer started out in the media business as a co-host and producer of a CHIN Radio weekly talk show and was a sports show host at the defunct FLOW 93.5 FM and a Global TV reporter before joining CP24 four years ago.
Former CP24 crime reporter, Dwight Drummond, was also honoured. He left the network in 2010 to join Ann-Marie Mediwake – who hosted the BBPA men’s celebration – as co-anchor for CBC News Toronto supper hour newscasts.
“It’s nice to be recognized by your community,” said Drummond who graduated from Ryerson University’s Television Arts program.
Back home for the first time since 1996 when he joined Kentucky which won the college championship in his sophomore year, Jamaal Magloire is enjoying home cooking and the adulation of his hometown supporters.
He signed a one-year contract with the Toronto Raptors this season.
“I am happy to be back even though the team is not doing well,” said Magloire who is in his 13th season in the National Basketball Association (NBA) after being drafted 19th by the Charlotte Hornets in the 2000 draft. “This is one of the awards I will cherish.”
The second Canadian to appear in an NBA All-Star game, 33-year-old Magloire said he has a lot of gas left in his tank and would like to end his professional career in Toronto.
For a few minutes last week, banker Mark Cummings had the opportunity to share his high school basketball exploits with Magloire.
Migrating with his family from Guyana at age six, Cummings graduated from Mississauga’s Clarkson Secondary School and the University of Toronto and worked in the insurance industry before joining the banking sector.
A senior vice-president at Scotiabank, Cummings is also chair of the Big Brothers & Big Sisters of Toronto.
Royal Bank of Canada regional vice-president and Sheridan College corporate social responsibility lecturer, Mark Beckles, said he was humbled by the recognition.
“I see this award as a reflection of the contributions being made in the community by so many young male professionals,” said Beckles, a Tory candidate in the 2007 provincial elections. “I think we are the lucky ones today. We are just part of a much larger group of individuals that are doing great work in the community.”
Jamaican-born businessman, Lytton Barrett, who came to Canada via England 42 years ago, spoken work artist and hair salon owner, Al St. Louis, Law Society of Upper Canada bencher, Julian Falconer and Urban Financial Services Coalition past president and TD Securities vice-president, Marlon Reid, were also honoured at the celebration that is a precursor to the 30th annual Harry Jerome Awards on April 28 at the Toronto Congress Centre.
By RON FANFAIR