Jamaica 50 launches in Canada
Deft diplomatic efforts sweetened by the active presence of Jamaican-born Senator Don Meredith in the Canadian Senate were the key elements of a glorious week of the launch of Jamaica's 50th anniversary celebrations in Canada's capital, home to some 12,000 Jamaican nationals recently.
It was a week that brought to the Government Conference Centre a rapturous Thursday evening crowd of 500, members of the Canadian parliament, diplomats, the newly minted Ottawa Police Chief, Toronto's Deputy Police Chief (himself a Jamaican), Ottawa's Deputy Mayor, Jamaican-Canadians from eight of Canada's 10 provinces, some of the best Jamaican food ever tasted in Canada, and compelling dance music from the violin of teenage Jamaican medical student Jessica Yap.
The week started with the launch of Jamaica50 Ottawa's thanksgiving church service with more than 500 people attending at the Bethel Pentecostal Church where the highlights were the main address by the Rev Dr Anthony Bailey, the solos of Vanessa London, and a spirited presentation by the Heritage Singers from Toronto that paraded decades of Jamaican excellence in singing and stage presence. It left community members breathlessly asking "when is the next event?"
Indeed, it seemed then that the celebrations had begun filling a void in the psyche of the Jamaican Diaspora in Canada for good things Jamaican. They wanted more. And more they will have, for the organisers of Jamaica50 Ottawa have plans for celebrations running to November, with the highlights around Independence Day and a planned visit by the Jamaica Military Band in August.