Community service appealed to Dennis Bedeau as a teenager growing up in Trinidad & Tobago.
It was therefore natural that he would continue to immerse himself in volunteer work after migrating to the Greater Toronto Area.
The provincial government’s senior manager was among six former Trinidad & Tobago Association of Ontario (TTAO) presidents honoured at the annual carnival brunch recently in Don Mills. He served as president from 1991-1993.
“Those were the hectic days of the organization,” said Bedeau. “During this period, we participated in the now defunct multicultural caravan by sponsoring the San Fernando pavilion. We also held a Caribana party at the downtown Holiday Inn and brought many T & T bands and performers to the annual summer festival.”
Under his stewardship, the TTAO also assisted in developing a proposal for a non-profit housing development and instituted the annual recognition awards.
Lennox Blizzard was the first president of the organization which was established in 1976. The retired George Brown College professor and avid saxophonist was unable to attend the event because of ill health. He was the president from 1976-1978 and again from 1980-1982.
Founding member and second president, Carl Cox, accepted the honour on Blizzard’s behalf.
“It’s nice to be recognized,” he said. “It’s a good feeling.”
An underwriter by profession, Cox was instrumental in forging cultural ties mainly to expose nationals here and their Canadian friends to folk music.
The other honourees were retired Canadian Broadcasting Corporation technician, Edwin Terry; McMaster University graduate, Patrick Donatien who retired from the Ontario government 14 years ago and lifelong educator, Vernon Farrell, who was unable to attend the event.
Under Farrell’s leadership, the TTAO enjoyed its highest level of membership and staged an annual convention in June.
Horace Thorne, who was installed as the new president a year ago, said it’s important to recognize the former presidents and foundation builders.
“You should know where you come from to know where you are going,” said Thorne. “Most times, the people who build organizations are forgotten or they are honoured after they have left us. Under my tenure, we will highlight and recognize the contributions of those who have built this foundation.”
The rest of the TTAO executive comprises Jean Turner Williams (vice-president), Rachel Benjamin (secretary), Judy Gomez (assistant secretary), Giselle Cole (treasurer), Tammy Salandy Cole (assistant treasurer), Alpha King (director) and Natasha Holtham (public relations officer).