Caribbean Judge Encourages Youth To Excel

By: Bevan Springer, New York Amsterdam News

NEW YORK – A West Indian judge in Canada urges Caribbean youth to take advantage of the educational and professional opportunities available to their generation.

Dr. Irving André of the tiny island of Dominica is a highly respected Justice in the Ontario Court of Justice, and he believes students in the Caribbean have more educational opportunities going for them than in generations past.

The world was changing rapidly and he urged the younger generation to recognize the special opportunities available to them: “I think given the complexity of the world, the need for innovation, and the plethora of opportunities which now exist, our young people must regard themselves as privileged to be young within this period.”

Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies, Professor E. Nigel Harris (left) congratulates Award Recipient, Justice André. Photo credit: Ron Fanfair

Dr. André’s own success included earning three law degrees in Canada – the government of the day did not fund law scholarships when he was growing up in the region. But these are different times and the Dominican national wants Caribbean youth to reflect on where they are in history: “The generation before them struggled tremendously to take advantage of the educational opportunities which presented themselves in the Caribbean.”

Dr. André contended educators needed to “wean our young people on an intellectual diet which includes self motivation, dedication and a relentless commitment to make something of themselves.”

Born in Curaçao but raised in Portsmouth, Dominica, Irving André has authored or co-authored 15 books on History, Literature and Economics. He believes life is a gift and recalls being nurtured on the Biblical scripture ‘to whom much is given, much is owed.’ “I think we as West Indians have to revisit those maxims which served our generation and we have to make the younger generation familiar with those teachings,” André counseled as he also recalled the principle “success is the best revenge.”

The Honorable Justice André, one of the first justices in Ontario to hold a Doctorate Degree in Law, was honored in Toronto last month by the his alma mater the University of the West Indies (UWI) which he credits as integral to his early progress. “I went to UWI as a student pilgrim seeking benediction from the intellectual bright lights at the university. The university in retrospect was the best thing that happened to me – it gave me the confidence, and it accounted for the growth of my intellectual capacity… I owe a lot to it.”

UWI raised approximately CAD $300,000 at its second annual benefit gala at the Four Seasons in Toronto. The gala honored notable individuals who have made significant contributions to UWI and the Caribbean and Canadian communities, including Donovan Bailey; Michael Lee-Chin; The Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean; Former Deputy Chief of Toronto police Keith L. Forde; Kamala-Jean Gopie; Dr. Karl Massiah, Dr. John Stewart and Dr. André.

Two organizations were also recognized – Ryerson University for its contribution to the advancement of Caribbean people through its joint programs with UWI, and GAP Adventures for its role in pushing the boundaries of sustainable travel.

Bevan Springer

Bevan Springer, a New York Amsterdam News columnist who writes frequently on travel and tourism issues as well as the Caribbean Diaspora, is the President of the New Jersey-headquartered Marketplace Excellence – a full service, integrated marketing agency committed to excellence in the fields of public relations, marketing and media coaching. He also produces the Caribbean Media Exchange on Sustainable Tourism – CMEx.

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