By Meegan Scott
TORONTO, Canada – “Let’s pull this together. Let’s start with Canada and create a strategy that can be replicated across the board.” So said the Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Pearnel Charles Jr, as he encouraged Jamaicans to benefit from investing in and volunteering in activities for accelerating Jamaica’s social and economic development. He was addressing the Jamaica Canada Diaspora Conference at the Canadian Legion Hall, Irwin Road, Toronto, last Saturday.
The Minister encouraged Jamaicans in Canada to “get on board” the initiative for engaging, empowering, and utilizing the talents of Jamaicans in the Diaspora and at home. The rally cry supports Jamaica’s Diaspora Policy, and actions aimed at contributing to Jamaica’s target of 5% economic growth in four years; inclusive and mutually beneficial Diaspora engagement; and the utilization of Jamaica’s talent abroad (through volunteer, paid services, entrepreneurship, and business).
The Conference themed: “Out of Many, One People: A Spotlight on the Issues” was considered a success by attendees and its Conveners. The event presented an opportunity for Jamaicans in Canada to share their issues and recommendations relating to investing in Jamaica; crime, policing and the justice system; healthcare; youth empowerment; custom and immigration; and education.
Among the Conference participants were Messrs. Lloyd Wilks, Consul General of Jamaica in Toronto, Vivion Scully of JAMPRO, Philip Rose of the Jamaica Tourist Board, Sylvanus Thompson, and Ms. Yvette Blackburn of the Jamaica Diaspora Advisory Board. Ms. Adaoma Patterson of the Jamaican Canadian Association, and Mr. Jerrold Johnson of Jamaica National were also in attendance.
Vivion Scully highlighted the “hunger” of participants to identify business opportunities. Philip Rose noted great ideas and interest in Diaspora Business Tourism. Sylvanus Thompson felt the Conference delivered the opportunity for participants to discuss issues common to Jamaicans at home and abroad. While Yvette Blackburn felt the Conference succeeded in starting the process for delivering a “blueprint” on “how to best help the Diaspora” for 2019.
Conference attendee Marlene Henry felt both facilitators and participants contributed richly. For the next Conference she would like to see an additional day for ensuring working sessions that expands on discussions and crafts solutions.
Lloyd Wilks says the most important message shared by the Minister and Keynote was ─ “The Jamaican government embraces all Jamaicans irrespective of social, political or economic standing”. The need “to participate actively”, “to identify as Jamaican”; and that “Jamaica is open and ready for business and Jamaicans should take advantage of the opportunities on offer now”.
He highlighted the need for more “public relations, public education and marketing” for ensuring wider reach and more diverse categories of participants.
Come 2019, Mr. Wilks hopes for “increased levels of purposeful participation, total absorption of the ethos of I am Jamaican, and greater investment in Jamaica from the Diaspora”.
The Consul General urges those who attended the Conference to share their experience with others.
On behalf of the Government of Jamaica, Mr. Wilks, invites Jamaicans, their descendants and friends of Jamaica who missed the Conference to “join us in the thrust to move Jamaica and Jamaicans forward to fulfill our potential”. “Get ready to participate in Conference 2019”. To benefit from contributing to Jamaica’s social and economic development through knowledge and skills transfer, tourism, investment, entrepreneurship, charity and humanitarian assistance or dialogue and debates you are invited to share your interest by Email at: [email protected].
Meegan Scott, is a Jamaican-born Strategic Management Consultant.