It was bitter sweet evening last Saturday for Zachary Crooks who was the recipient of the annual bursary of the Barbados Nurses Association of Canada’s (BNAC) Toronto chapter.
His grandmother, Evelyn Gaye, who had encouraged him to apply for the award, was not around to share in the celebration. She died suddenly last month.
“She really pushed me to go after this award and then to not have her here tonight to see me get it is disappointing,” said Crooks. “She was there with me from day one and she really urged me and my brother to strive for excellence in everything that we do. I miss her and I am dedicating this honour in her memory.”
A second-year political science and history student at McGill University, Crooks intends to pursue a law degree.
The BNAC has awarded 16 bursaries worth a total of $16,000 to second-year university/college students since the scholarship program was established.
Anjeannette Reece, the winner for the first award, left Canada in 2001 to pursue a Bachelor of Medicine degree at the University of Newcastle in Australia. She works with Hunter New England Area Health Service in New South Wales.
A dozen Barbadian-born nurses residing in the Greater Toronto Area founded the BNAC after a meeting with then consul general Wendell Kellman and retired city auditor Joseph “Dan” Bancroft. The inaugural meeting took place at St. Anne’s church hall on Gladstone Ave.
In the keynote address, youth worker Kwesi Johnson urged BNAC members and their supporters to offer a helping hand to those in need.
“I ask that you think of your journey to where you now find yourself, think about the people, family members and mentors that have supported you in getting there,” said Johnson who graduated last year with a Master’s in Sociology and Equity Studies.
“Now think about the possibility of having a chance to play a small yet significant role in doing the same for a young mother waiting for housing, a young boy cutting himself as a way to escape daily bullying, a child whose only full meal is given to him/her at a community-based afterschool program. Think about the young man who sits in jail waiting for his release date.”