Justice Dr. Irving Andre has received many accolades in his lifetime. Yet, he considers the Harry Jerome Award the most significant honour to be bestowed on him.
Andre is one of 19 recipients of the prestigious awards to be presented at the 30th annual Black Business & Professional Association-administered gala on April 28 at the Toronto Congress Centre.
“This award has a distinguished provenance and it’s perhaps the best known in our community,” said Andre, one of just two provincial judges with a doctorate in law. “A number of excellent persons have won this award and to be considered in that pantheon of successful individuals is a tremendous honour. I am very grateful to those who nominated me.”
Andre, who studied English, History and Philosophy at the University of the West Indies where he was also a 3,000- and 5,000-metre runner, is the recipient of the Legacy Award, one of three new Harry Jerome Awards this year.
G98.7 founding president and chief executive officer Fitzroy Gordon and Senator Don Meredith will receive the Heritage and Youth Advocacy Awards respectively.
Meredith is the co-founder and executive director of the Greater Toronto Area Faith Alliance that is committed to finding solutions to senseless youth violence.
“I view this award as recognition for the work I have done in the community in the past 11 years to bring about changes in the lives of young people,” said Meredith. “As a Senator, I am able to continue this work at the national level by influencing policy and ensuring that the federal government is putting the proper resources into programs to help young people who are not only our future, but also our present.”
Retired York Regional Police Service chief, Armand LaBarge, will be honoured with the Diversity Award. Just after becoming the region’s top cop in 2002, he created the Culture and Diversity Resources Bureau that reported directly to him, and the York Regional Police Community Advisory Council met with him bi-monthly to promote harmony and understanding between the police and the members of the community it served.
“I had the privilege of serving as chief in one of the most diverse communities anywhere in Canada and it was an opportunity for me to work at the grassroots level with different communities and bring them together,” he said.
With LaBarge at the helm, the service’s leadership also became more reflective of the diverse communities it is mandated to serve.
Trinidad & Tobago-born Robertson Rouse was appointed Superintendent in the summer of 2008, making him the organization’s highest ranking Black officer. The Association of Black Law Enforcers (ABLE) president, Keith Merith, Chris Bullen, Andre Crawford and Ricky Veerappan were promoted to Inspector while Joan Randle became the service’s first Black female Staff Sergeant.
University of Toronto PhD candidate, Eugenia Duodu, is the lone female Harry Jerome Award winner this year. Ranked one of the top organic chemistry students at the university, Duodu’s work has garnered her collaborations with researchers from Princess Margaret Hospital and the Centre for Probe Development & Design at McMaster University.
“Being the recipient of a Harry Jerome Award is a major accomplishment and I am honoured to be in that esteemed company,” said Duodu.
Other winners are Paul Barnett (Community Service), Dr. David Tay (Technology & Innovation), Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sergeant Craig Smith (Media), Julius Tapper (Leadership), Hugh Graham (Lifetime Achievement), Damon Allen (Trailblazer), Justice Michael Tulloch (President’s), Tut Ruach (Athletics), Dr. Anthony Sterling (Business), Cordell Samuels (Professional Excellence), Jay Douglas (Entertainment), Andrew Forde (Young Entrepreneur), Dr. Godfrey Bacheyie (Health Sciences) and Errol Lee (Arts).
Jerome, who set seven world track records and helped to create Canada’s sports ministry, was slated to be the keynote speaker at a celebration to mark the record performances of a new breed of Canadian athletes at the 1982 Brisbane Commonwealth Games. Sadly, he succumbed to a brain aneurysm a fortnight before the organizers contacted him and the decision was made to honour the athletes with awards named after the Order of Canada recipient.
Since its inception in 1983, some 339 Harry Jerome awards (this year included) have been presented to individuals and one organization – Eva’s Initiatives in 2005 – for excellence in myriad fields.
CNN political strategist, Roland Martin, will be the keynote speaker at this year’s event. Tickets are $200 each.
By RON FANFAIR