Over a book and a meal at Milton’s Best Western Journey’s Cuisine and International Flavours Restaurant with Chef Courtney Guy, grand dame Mary Bishop carefully crafted an exquisite Jamaica 60 Independence anniversary luncheon, which was one of connecting people, spaces, and things.
Jamaica consul-general to Toronto, Lincoln Downer and Jamaica Tourist Board regional director, Canada, Angella Bennett, were special guests of the auspicious occasion that raised $1800 for Project for the Advancement of Childhood Education (Canada), to help supply tablets for basic school children in Jamaica.
In attendance was Mayor of Milton Gordon Krantz, who brought remarks endorsing the noble initiative and, welcomed the newcomers to his town by gifting them swags.
It was a sold-out event with just about 60 seated and served guests, which provided an intimate setting that garnered delightful camaraderie, networking, and giddy laughter. As if saving the best for last, the tabled auction drew lots of applauses and gleeful biddings.
Sandra Whiting, master of ceremonies, reminded patrons that the auctioned items of a large, framed picture, specialty gift baskets and seemingly exploding potted plants, were not to be thought of as such but as revenue for helping a child.
But it was Paula De Ronde, author of “My Bert has Alzheimer’s: Caregiving is Living for Two,” who read artfully and heartfelt from her book to inspire hope, perseverance, grit, and wit, when she recounted the details of taking care of her husband, stricken with dementia and Alzheimer’s.
She is the founder of Arts & Culture Jamaica, Inc, an organization which promotes the artistic and unique cultural heritage of Jamaica. Also, an awardee of the Ontario Library Association’s Distinguished Service, which she received after an illustrious career at Toronto Public Library.
“I want to be a wife again to my Bert. I went through a series of things but what I was tired of being was not the wifely things. I miss the conversations; the agreeing to disagree…I miss being a wife,” she says at the end of a reading that can only be described as a love story. Bert is now in a long-term care facility, which is trying for De Ronde, especially during the pandemic lockdown when she was unable to see him.
Angela Dabideen, a director of PACE(Canada), brought greetings from the president Diana Burke, who was unable to attend. Incidentally, founder of P.A.C.E, Dr. Mavis Burke, sadly passed the following day.
She had heeded to the call from the late Edward Seaga, then Prime Minister of Jamaica, to assist community-based pre-schools (called basic schools in Jamaica). Dr. Mavis Burke established Women for PACE Canada in 1987, later renamed PACE Canada.
In Canada, the non-profit organization currently awards two Bursaries annually to students in the Early Childhood Education program at George Brown College in Ontario. The awarding of the Bursaries is administered by the College.
“Today’s occasion is a chance to see old friends and meet new ones, and while it should’ve have been a reading for my long-time friend Paula, it culminated in celebrating Jamaica turning 60, and taking the opportunity to donate to PACE Canada in continuation of my drive to accumulate tablets for basic school children,” Mary told Sofi Style, for Reggae North.
Mary was also a top fundraiser, coupled with the JTB Canada team, at the recently held annual 5K Jam-Walk, along Toronto’s Lakeshore boardwalk to raise funds for the Helping Hands Foundation.
The Reverend Canon Judy Allen of the Anglican Church of Canada led the grace. Jamaican musician Fred Crossley closed off the elegant affair by serenading Mary with Billy Joel’s “Don’t Go Changing.
Spotted community members were Realtor Grace Lyons, also of the Heritage Singers fame; Margarett Best, former Liberal government minister; Shirley Chisholm, of Ebony Women International Insurance Network (EWIIN); Elizabeth Ainsworth of Esmen’s Curry Powder; schoolteacher Veronica Findlay; Paul Barnett of Jamaica Foundation; Tony Allen; Sam and Paula, brother and daughter of Mary; and other prominent patrons.
Sponsors were Pasqualino Restaurant, Pizzaz Baskits, Esmen’s Curry Powder Inc., C&M Bishop Enterprises, Schurrman Greenhouses and Journey’s Cuisine and International Flavours Restaurant.
Sophia Findlay is a Toronto-based journalist, who is a society columnist, lifestyle connoisseur, custom content curator, podcast host, social media blogger and mother of two, who aims to inspire through her news, reviews, and on-the-ground reporting.
Her Sofi Style column also appears regularly in the Jamaica Gleaner North America Online Branded publication.
Like, comment, share, save and follow Sofi Style on social platforms: Ins