Created on 02 October 2016 Hits: 590 Written by Montreal Community Contact Category: DIASPORA
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CELEBRATING 50 YEARS OF COMMUNITY BUILDING

SPOTLIGHT ON ACHIEVEMENTS

On Saturday, October 15, 2016, Montreal Grenadian community and friends of Grenada, Carriacou and Petit Martinique will come together to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of community organizing and the making of what is now the Grenada Nationals Association of Montreal, Inc. (GNAM)  with a reception at the Holiday Inn, 6500 Cote de Liesse, Montreal.  The Keynote Address will be given by Ambassador Derrick James, Consul General for Grenada in Canada.  He was recently appointed to the Office which is located in Toronto.

The theme for the evening, "Giving Thanks & Acknowledgement to our Founding Members and Grenadian Community" is quite fitting because it is with the insight of its founding members and the tremendous support of Montreal Grenadians and friends that the Association continues to flourish, to serve and to support nationals here and at Home.  For this, the GNAM gives praise and thanks to the Grenadian community and friends for their unending support.

The founding members were: Dennis Bonaparte (deceased); Bertha Pitt-Bonaparte, Dominic Samuel, Douglas Alexander, Ed Ellick, Eileen Phillips (deceased), Desmond Phillips, Magbert Anthony Farray (deceased), Cyril McFarlane, George Japal, Michael Joseph, Albert Kingston, and Vaughn Steele.  Mr. Dennis Bonaparte was installed as the first President of the Association.  On this landmark occasion, we pay homage and we are grateful for their contributions in putting the Association afoot.

In addition to recognizing the Past Presidents, the following individuals will be honoured as long-standing members: Ms. Hermes Cobb; Dr. Bertha Pitt-Bonaparte, Mr. Eric Llewellyn and Mr. Roosevelt Alexis.  Mrs. Lona Williams will receive a Life-Time award.

Amongst GNAM's highlights, landmarks and accomplishments are:

Service to Homeland – Following the devastation caused by Hurricane Ivan in 2004, GNAM, the community and friends came together to collect and to ship several containers of goods, clothing and monies to assist in feeding and rebuilding the Nation.  Over the years, Grenada has benefited from other contributions including bursaries for students, and the shipment of medical supplies and equipment to hospitals.  An EKG machine was donated to Grenada, under the leadership of Mrs. Bertha Pitt-Bonaparte, a past President. In addition, the GNAM bought bonds which supported the building of the now Maurice Bishop International Airport.

Advocacy/Scholarship – Since 1999, the GNAM has distributed more than $10,000 in bursaries to approximately sixteen students. The bursary program was inaugurated at a "Celebration of Grenada's Silver Jubilee", on October 2, 1999.  Dr. Keith Mitchell, Prime Minister (Grenada) gave the keynote address and presented awards to the founding members.  The PM received a hearty welcome by First Nation Peoples from Kahnawake's "Thunder Hawk Dancers."  Mr. John Cruickshank was the President.  The grandness of the event was the idea of Peter "Uncle" Charles and spearheaded by Ms. Janice Anne Farray who worked diligently to build a bursary fund. On July 3, 1971, GNAM hosted a Conference on Grenada Affairs, an event which was held @ McGill University's Leacock Building, to highlight and discuss issues affecting Grenada and the Caribbean.

The Caribbean Mellotones from New York played during the reception which followed.

Showcase-Cultural Ambassadors – GNAM provides opportunities for Grenada's cultural Ambassadors (local and international)  -  Ajamu, Squeezy, Black Wizard, Randy Issaac, Specky, Doggies, Sugarman, Jenny, Beast, Praying Mantis, Jab-Jab, Peter Humphrey to showcase their talent. On several occasions, it also hosted Grenada's Heritage Theatre performing group.

Partnership – Amongst partnership initiatives, in 2002, it co-hosted the honoring of Dr. Jean Augustine, Grenadian, on her appointment as a Federal MP; in 2007 it did same helping to raise funds for the inauguration of a Chair in her name at York University.  It has participated in several Montreal's Eastern Caribbean Day celebrations.

Social Hub/Honour – Several events are put on each year which provide opportunities for members to connect and network, e.g. picnics, dances, Mothers' Day event, children's Christmas parties, etc. with the hard work of members of the executive and Grenadian community.  More recently and on a larger scale, it has started to honor members of the Grenadian and wider community for their contributions, service and development of community.

Nurturing/Skills Development – GNAM has been fundamental in providing developmental opportunities. The team of Patrice Farray-Taylor, Theresa "Clo" Henwood and Anne Matthew was responsible for coordinating the Association's much anticipated annual fashion show, the presentation of which allowed Clo, Anne, and Patrice the "stage" to grow, to develop their skills and to showcase their talents.   It is through GNAM that some community members are able to "conquer" fears of public speaking and to develop their presentation, coordination, and organizational skills.

Community Engagement-Homeland – Over the years, several Grenada politicians, whether sitting and/or on the campaign trail have been given the opportunity  to connect with nationals in Montreal, including Hon. Dr. Keith Mitchell, Hon. Tilman Thomas, Hon. Peter  David, Hon. Delma Thomas, Dr. Francis Alexis, Hon. Nazim Burke, Hon. George Brizan (deceased), Hon. Dr. George Vincent,  to name a few.

More Recent Initiatives - For the past few years, there has been a harvest – Grenadian Style; participation in Montreal's Carifiesta; and the institution of a Spice Island Ladies Pageant organized by Mrs. Karen Parke-Bernard, current President. In earlier years, Mr. John "Spanky" McMillan, past President (deceased) spearheaded and coordinated the Association's participation in Montreal's carnival. More recently, Kenny Calder, past President, participated in a City of Montreal project - the Regroupement des Organismes du Montreal Ethnique pour le Logement (ROMEL), which resulted in securing 98 affordable housing units, 25 of which were designated for members of the Grenadian community.

Nucleous/Other Groups – In its earlier years, the Association served as a meeting place for the few Grenadians in Montreal.  Amongst the earlier members were Mrs. Lona Williams, John Williams (deceased), Keith Williams, David Lewis, Ann Raeburn, Cecil Blackette, Phyllis Reece-Francis (deceased), Elsa Toussaint (deceased), Marion Forde, Elsa Alexander, Rona Cobb, Marva Evans, and Bridget Joseph (deceased). It also served as the catalyst for several Grenadian Montreal-based groups such as Grenada Ensemble cultural group, Grenada Islanders Sports Club, and Spice Island Ladies Cultural Association.

These are some of the achievements, with the support of members of the community, which have made the Association strong over its many years of operation.  We look forward to welcoming you at our celebration.

The event gets underway with cocktails @ 7:00 p.m. Tickets ($65 – Cash Bar). For more information please contact: Karen Bernard-Parke, President @ 514-369-5788; John Cruickshank @ 514-737-8313; Frederick Peters @ 514-483-2178; Hazelanne @ 514-561-8546.

 

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