York University first-year political science and psychology student, Hezekiah Davies, has set a rather high bar for himself at an early stage in his life. His career goal is to become Canada’s first Black Prime Minister. And he is already very civically engaged and politically connected.
In his final year at St. Joseph Secondary School in Mississauga, Davies participated in the Southern Ontario Model United Nations Assembly and was a member of Mississauga-Streetsville New Democratic Party (NDP) candidate Raed Ayad’s campaign team in the 2011 provincial elections.
Davies recently switched political allegiances and is the Brampton West Young Liberals recruitment director. He’s also part of former provincial cabinet minister Sandra Pupatello’s campaign staff. She’s among seven declared candidates for the Ontario Liberals leadership to replace the retiring Premier Dalton McGuinty.
The convention takes place on Jan 25 and 26 at Ryerson’s Mattamy Athletic Centre.
“I have thrown my support behind Sandra because I feel she’s dogmatic and has a clear vision of where the province should go in these challenging times,” said the Nigerian-born teenager. “She’s the Margaret Thatcher of Liberal politics here and I think that is what we need in Ontario. I have no doubt that, if elected, she will turn out to be one of the best leaders this province has ever had.”
Davies comes from good stock.
His late grandfather, Hezekiah Davies, was a prominent Nigerian nationalist, lawyer, journalist, trade unionist, politician and statesman who played a key role in the West African country’s march to independence in 1960. The Harvard University Fellow was also a federal Minister of State in the Ministry of Industries for three years up until 1966.
“I am very aware of my family history and I have to live up to my grandfather’s legacy,” said Davies who was born four years after Hezekiah Davies died in 1989 at age 84. That’s one of the reasons why I have set the bar so high for myself and I don’t look at failure as an option.”
Last week, Davies was among 56 bright young Canadians presented with Black Business & Professional Association (BBPA) national scholarships. He was the recipient of the Larry McLarty Award made possible through donations by members of the Toronto Police Service Black Internal Support Network.
McLarty served with the Jamaica Constabulary Force before becoming the TPS’ first Black uniformed member in January 1960. He retired two decades ago.
“To be the recipient of a scholarship honouring a trailblazer is quite an honour and a stepping stone for me to provide hope for those who are discouraged in some of our challenged neighbourhoods,” said Davies who has also volunteered with the Salvation Army. “I certainly feel as if I could be the next Barack Obama, Nelson Mandela or Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that this country so desperately needs. We live in a so-called liberal society, but it’s still very much conservative. We need a new messiah.”
The quality of this year’s scholarship winners is extremely high and exceptional.
Classical pianist and actor, Rashaan Allwood, was rewarded with two scholarships – the BBPA Community Caring Citizen and the inaugural James Massey Memorial Music awards.
James Massey, the son of retired Centennial College director and the BBPA National Scholarship board of trustees’ member, Trevor Massey, was murdered in a midtown park by a gunshot blast at close range last May. The deceased was an accomplished pianist and composer.
To perpetuate their son’s memory, the family set up a scholarship in James Massey’s name.
Allwood averaged 95 per cent in Grade 12 at Cawthra Park Secondary School and is studying music at the University of Toronto. He aspires to be a piano performance professor and concert pianist. His favourite pianists are Vladimir Horowitz, who is widely considered one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century; child prodigy, Evgeny Kissin; Sydney Symphony Orchestra artistic director, Vladimir Ashkenazy and late Canadian icon, Oscar Peterson.
“One of my regrets is that I never had the opportunity to meet Oscar,” said Allwood who also captured U of T, the Mississauga School of Music, the Alliance of Jamaican Alumni Associations and John Brooks scholarships in the last few months.
Last year, Allwood became the Project for the Advancement of Childhood Education (PACE) Canada youngest supporter of a basic school in Jamaica when he adopted New Town Early Childhood Institution in St. Elizabeth. In 2003, he played the lead role of Young Simba in the Walt Disney Broadway musical, The Lion King.
Allwood will be presented with a National Gold Medal for outstanding musical achievement at the Royal Conservatory of Music convocation on January 13.
The first BBPA scholarship for $1,000 was presented to Jamaican-born Dr. Wayne Batchelor in 1986. Canada’s first Black interventional cardiologist graduated from Queen’s University Medical School and did his residency at the U of T before relocating to Florida to practice a decade ago.
Batchelor’s father – Dr. Barrington Batchelor – was a civil engineer and Queen’s University professor emeritus. He died in June 2011 at age 82.