Whether it’s a fundraiser to send relief to Africa or the Caribbean, a rally to show solidarity with the people of Haiti, a street protest with the Black Action Defense Committee (BADC) protest or a march with United Mothers Opposed to Violence Everywhere (UMOVE) who have lost sons to gun violence in the city, you can count on Mary Alcindor’s presence and support.
She was recognized for her dedicated community service with a Senior Award last Saturday night at the St. Lucia Toronto Association celebration to mark St. Lucia’s 35th independence anniversary.
TheCaribbeanisland achieved independence on February 22, 1979.
“This award is satisfying because it’s coming from my community who are saying we have watched you over the years supporting causes in and outside of our community,” she said.
Raised in St. Lucia’s southwest coastal town, Soufriere, noted for the magnificent towering Pitons and the volcanic hot sulphur spring baths, Alcindor operated two record stores – Network Records and Castries Record Store – that sold all genres of music ranging from reggae, soca, calypso, jazz, blues and African to gospel, hip-hop/rap, funk/dance, R & B and cadence/zouke.
Visitors to the retail outlets were certain to find almost all of the Mighty Sparrow recordings, virtually any Indian soca record, an Otis Redding hit or all of the current year’s fantastic calypso hits. The stores were also meeting places for many local and Caribbean artistes and the base upon which soca DJ Dr. Jay launched his career.
Alcindor, who was a disc jockey, turned to the music business after shelving plans to open a fashion store to sell women’s clothing. She felt that her busy schedule, that included taking care of three young daughters and working full-time as an employment counselor with Canada Employment and Immigration, would not have permitted her to keep abreast with new fashions.
Bankrolled with $5,000, she rented a store in a mall atVictoria Park Ave.and Morecambe Gate and made her first purchases from then Markham-based record distributor, Record on Wheels. From this modest beginning, she launched Network in 1986 andCastriesfive months later. In 1992, Network won the Canadian Reggae Music’s “Top Record Store” award.
After the record stores closed, she became a BADC board member and forged links with the Haitian andSierra Leonecommunities in the Greater Toronto Area.
Alcindor, who is still recovering from a serious vehicular accident a few years ago, shared the spotlight with Che Emmanuel who was the recipient of the Young Professional Award.
Born in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) to a Grenadian father and Guyanese mother, Emmanuel moved to Grenada with his parents at the age of one and then to St. Lucia nine years later when his father Jimmy Emmanuel was assigned an Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) posting.
Emmanuel, who came back to the GTA in 1997 to pursue business studies atBrockUniversity, started a knapsack program for St. Lucian students three years ago.
“While on vacation a few years ago, a friend took me to a small community where parents were struggling to provide their kids with educational material to attend school,” recalled Emmanuel who works in the insurance industry. “I felt compelled to do something.”
In the last two years, he has shipped 500 knapsacks filled with school material for youths in nine St. Lucian villages.
Individuals interested in participating in the project are required to provide a schoolbag with supplies and $5 that will contribute to shipping costs.
The closing date is May 2 and they can contact Emmanuel at (416) 997-1498 or firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange for pick-up.
The knapsacks are shipped at the end of May each year.