Latoya Grindley, Gleaner Writer
The University of the West Indies (UWI) Inaugural Toronto gala on Saturday, February 27 saw approximately 460 guests turning out to support the benefit event. Needless to say, the very first event of this nature to be held in Canada, was a huge success.
Staged at the Four Seasons Hotel, the black-tie affair saw guests coming out dressed to impress.
Held for the past 12 years in New York under the patronage of Dr Harry Belafonte, the benefit gala has been a staple event for many Caribbean natives.
And with the approximately half a million Caribbean nationals residing in sections of Toronto, and the number of UWI graduates living in Canada, the gala was very timely and warmly welcomed.
Held under the patronage of UWI honorary graduate, Raymond Chang, chair of CI Financial and chancellor of Ryerson University, nine prominent and high achievers were awarded at the function.
Receiving the Luminary Award were Mayann Francis and Dr Harry Belafonte. Among Francis' notable achievements that she is only the second woman to be named lieutenant governor in Nova Scotia in more than 100 years.
Entertainer and human rights activist. Belafonte has been giving back to the Caribbean and education as a dedicated supporter of the the UWI scholarship programme. He is an honorary graduate of the institution.
Other awardees receiving the Vice-Chancellor Award were Jean Augustine, Professor Dionne Brand, Austin Clarke, Maud Fuller, Dr Herbert Ho Ping Kong, Dr Robert Moore and David Rudder. This award was given based on recognition of their significant contributions to the UWI, and excelling or having achieved great successes in their respective fields.
Belafonte, who was regrettably absent, was obviously missed. In an attempt to make up for his absence, a pre-recorded video presentation was aired to guests. He expressed his gratitude and gave a special greeting.
He also used the opportunity to express his sadness in the untimely passing of his friend, Cice-chancellor Emeritus Rex Nettleford, who was also scheduled to attend. He described Nettleford as a great man and said he had looked forward to celebrating with him in Toronto.
Funds raised through the gala will go towards the UWI scholarship programme as well as the Haitian earthquake recovery programme.
Gem Cover (left) and Beverley Thompson are intrigued by this artwork, one of the many attractive pieces featured during the silent auction at Saturday's UWI Inaugural Toronto Gala at the Four Seasons Hotel in Toronto, Canada.
Stunning is certainly one of the first words that can be used to describe Dr Nandini Daljit in this beautiful strapless gown, which she wears with poise.
Narayan and Sunita Cameron complement each other well.
Herman and Lola Chin share the limelight in matching colours at the gala.