While vacationing in Jamaica recently, Dr. Albertha Henry-Carmichael jumped into a pool in Ocho Rios to save a drowning boy.
George Carter made history by becoming the first Canadian-born Black judge and Kathy Grant, inspired by her late father, Owen Rowe, who was a Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) Flying Officer, is on a mission to fulfil his wish that every Black war veteran who fought for Canada is recognized.
The trio were among 17 individuals that Senator Don Meredith presented with Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medals last Saturday at Moss Park Armoury.
For Grant, receiving the medal at a Canadian Forces facility was significant.
“It brings back memories of my dad and his involvement in the military,” she said.
Former Member of Parliament, Marlene Jennings, actively supported Rowe’s advocacy for Caribbean-born war veterans who served in the RCAF, Canadian Armed Forces and the Merchant Navy to be honoured for their wartime contributions. A plaque was unveiled in June 2005 at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa two months after Rowe – who migrated from Barbados in 1942 – succumbed to cancer in Montreal at age 82.
A former fundraising coordinator, corporate revenue assurance analyst and claims investigation specialist, Grant established The Legacy Voices Institute, the only national project dedicated to the documentation and preservation of Black Canadian military history.
Henry-Carmichael has been giving selflessly for most of her life.
“Back in Jamaica, I used to accompany my grandmother to visit the sick and elderly and also clean churches,” she said. “That’s where the spirit for giving started.”
After migrating to Montreal in 1962, Henry-Carmichael continued to volunteer while earning first and second degrees at Concordia and McGill universities. She also taught in Montreal and the Greater Toronto Area, where she now resides, and spent some time engaging in community work in Nigeria where she secured a PhD at Ahmadu Bello University.
Born in Toronto to parents who migrated from Barbados in 1920, Carter served in the Infantry Corps in World War II and completed Law studies at Osgoode Hall before being called to the Bar in 1949. Appointed a Queen’s Counsel in 1969, he was sworn in as a provincial judge in 1980. Carter retired from the Bench in 1996.
Former city councillor Bev Salmon, educator Camille Logan, banker Mark Beckles, public servant Alton White and journalist Karlene Nation were also presented with medals to mark the ascension to the throne on Feb 6, 1952 of the second longest-serving monarch in British history.
Trained as a nurse who practiced in Toronto and Detroit for several years, Salmon dedicated the medal to her late husband, Dr. Doug Salmon, who was Canada’s first Black surgeon and the first African-Canadian president of a hospital medical staff. He passed away in September 2005 at age 81.
“Doug is still very much in my heart and mind,” said Salmon whose father – Jamaican-born Herbert McLean Bell – enlisted in the West Indies Regiment before he was 18 and joined the First Depot Battalion New Brunswick regiment in 1917.
Salmon was a cofounder of the Urban Alliance on Race Relations and the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s first Black female commissioner.
Nation, CTV’s diversity producer and news reporter, came to Canada from Jamaica in 1976 as a 17-year-old single mother, completed high school and worked as a waitress at night to put herself through the University of Toronto (Mississauga campus) where she graduated in 1983 with a political science degree.
The 2010 Paralympics Winter Games torch bearer, who has permanent double vision and no peripheral vision after doctors removed a brain tumour in 1998, ran unsuccessfully for the Conservative Party in last year’s provincial elections and city council in the 2010 municipal elections.
Emigrating from Jamaica three decades ago, White earned a Business Administration degree at York University and has been Ontario Place’s purchasing manager for the last 22 years. In addition, he heads Faith Centre Pentecostal Church’s Compassion Care Ministry.
Logan has been an educator for the past two decades in the York Region District School Board while Beckles is a Royal Bank of Canada regional vice-president and a Corporate Social Responsibility lecturer at Sheridan College.
“This is a humbling recognition and a constant reminder that there is so much we can do to make our communities stronger,” said Beckles, who was a Progressive Conservative party candidate in the 2007 Ontario elections.
Medals were also presented to Oak Ridges councillor, Greg Beros; CTV news anchor, Pauline Chan; Nipissing First Nation Deputy Chief, June Commanda; Halton Regional Police Inspector, Jeff Corey; philanthropist Stephen Mathieu; Borani Global Education Association founding president, Neda Moeini; retired Queen’s York Rangers captain and Ontario Safety League president and general manager, Brian Patterson and Justices Ronald Yamanaka and Karim Premji.
Meredith, who is at the forefront of a campaign to add a bust of Nova Scotia-born William Hall to the military monument commemorating prominent soldiers in Canada’s military history, said the 17 recipients are exemplary Canadians who have had a profound effect on the lives of their fellow citizens.
“What unites them is their assertiveness to step forward and make the world a better place,” he said. “It’s not what we do or the respect that we garner that’s important. The true mark of a hero is the decision to live your life not only for yourself, but for those around you.
“So because you have answered this call, I am proud to stand here today as the fourth African-Canadian senator and to confer on you this token of our appreciation for your hard work and service to humanity. You are not only examples to us of what it means to be generous and selfless human beings, but of what it means to be Canadians.”
Meredith’s wife, Michelle, assisted with the medal presentations.
By RON FANFAIR