Being declared a “person of national historic significance” is an unusual distinction to be bestowed on someone. However, the label fits perfectly one of Canada’s greatest vocalists, Portia White, who used her voice and stage presence to achieve international status.
Brian Lynch was in elementary school when Canada Post rolled out a millennium stamp bearing White’s image in 1999. A member of his high school senior concert and jazz bands, Lynch could not help but feel for a few hours last week that he was in the same rare space with the revered contralto who died in 1968. He was the recipient of a scholarship donated in White’s name.
“This is quite an honour,” said Lynch who was presented with the $1,500 award at the Black Business & Professional Association’s 25th national scholarships ceremony at the Toronto Police College.
The third-year Queen’s University Commerce student used his musical talent as a means of giving back to the community, by playing the piano in musicals and at local churches and the Montserrat Association’s annual Christmas events. He also taught young students to play the musical instrument.
Lynch plans to pursue a career in the aerospace industry.
“That has always been an interest of mine and I love flying,” said the Dr. Norman Bethune Collegiate Institute graduate.
The BBPA presented 55 scholarships – the highest number it has ever given out – worth nearly $250,000. Overall, the organization has granted 705 scholarships worth almost $2.6 million.
Margarett Best, the province’s new Minister of Consumer Services, said the value of investing in young people should never be taken lightly.
“These young people represent not only the future of the African-Canadian community but also the future of our great province and country,” said Best. “When we look at their accomplishments so far, we know we have a bright future indeed and we can expect much from them.”
In the keynote address, dean of Ryerson University’s Raymond Chang School of Continuing Learning, Dr. Gervan Fearon, congratulated the winners and encouraged them to continue to aspire to academic and professional excellence.
“It’s your aspirations and your dreams that will shape our tomorrow,” he said. “Have great and big dreams, but also have great actions, great values, great knowledge and great skills.”
Rashelle Litchmore who, in her second year at the University of Toronto Scarborough campus, established the Imani Mentorship Program which pairs university students with local elementary and high school pupils, was the recipient of the TD Bank’s $7,000 scholarship while Ontario scholar and Youth in Policing Initiative graduate, Sabrina Idukpaye, was presented with the $2,000 Larry McLarty scholarship in honour of the Toronto Police Service’s first Black officer who was hired on January 25, 1960.
“It’s so good this is coming from the police because I enjoyed being part of the YIPI program,” said the McGill University first-year political science student who intends to become a lawyer.
Scholarships were also presented to Patrick Walton, Chelsea Hooper, Chelsi Bonair, Asha Shelton, Tashan Yarde, Adena Tukabo, Atinuke Osunbunmi, Irene Fosu-Apraku, Kwaku Adomako, Pierre Bonsu, Dayne Harry, Sabrina McHugh, Akua Adinkrah, Othniel Williams, Francis Atta, Demilade Oba, Yousra Gendil, Alexander Chase, Fatima Elsadati, Dimitros-Jimmy Seymour, Michaela Gregory, Gabrielle Sinclair and Jermaine Francis.
Other scholarship winners were Bethel Teferra, Richard Balfour, Ed-Ester Petit Homme, Christine Achampong, Nande Wright, Mohamed-Deq Sabriye, Kimberley Springer, Carl Alphonse, Zaynab Wilson, Samia Tecle, Habon Ali, Peter Quashie, Lionel Cooper, Moses Otim, Mallory Yarde, Brandon Young, Candace Harris, Jessica Bonaparte, Re’Gina Brown, Funke Aladejebi, Richard Lindo, Marcus Muchura, Gabriel Martino and Gary Gray.
Roberto Hausman, the founding director of the Canadian Law Enforcement College, donated two $10,000 scholarships that will be presented next year to two students pursuing law enforcement careers.
By Ron Fanfair