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UWI students lauded at Toronto Benefit Gala

Published:Saturday | June 27, 2020 | 12:05 AMNeil Armstrong/Gleaner Writer

ALTHOUGH DELAYED by over two months due to the coronavirus pandemic, the University of the West Indies (UWI) Toronto Benefit Gala awards ceremony was held virtually via Zoom on June 13.

Donette Chin-Loy Chang, co-patron of the gala, commended the UWI students for taking the opportunity to become their best selves.

“These scholarships are not a handout; they are a testament to our confidence and trust in you. This is your moment,” she said to a virtual audience of about 100 attendees from Canada, the Caribbean, Amsterdam, and the United States.

QUOTING MANLEY

Referencing a quote from late Jamaican Prime Minister Michael Manley, “Don’t succumb to cynicism. You must know that the earth is yours to inherit or not as you will – you, yourselves, as the source of new thinking, new energy, but above all, new idealism,” she told them that they are no longer future leaders as they now lead.

“But you must lead armed with the history and wisdom of people like our honourees,” she exhorted.

The annual event, which is the university’s largest fundraiser in Canada, provides scholarships to empower students with a world-class education that shapes future generations of the Caribbean.

The academic and business leaders honoured were Dr David Suzuki, science broadcaster and environmental activist (Luminary Award); businesswoman and philanthropist Margaret McCain (G. Raymond Chang Award); Sagicor Financial Corporation Limited (Chancellor Award); educator and community activist Harold Braithwaite (posthumously); Dr Gervan Fearon, president and vice-chancellor of Brock University; and professional geoscientist and mining trailblazer Shastri Ramnath (Vice-Chancellor Award).

Chin-Loy Chang said that in a time of a global pandemic and the resurgence of an urgent call for justice and equity for all, “our mettle is being tested”.

“We’re all being called to be present, be open, and be ready to learn and change. It requires that we all bring together our collective wisdom to be architects of a new and more equitable future,” she said.

Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, vice-chancellor of The UWI, said that the university has been at the centre of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and the mobilisation of the people of the Caribbean.