Lecture series focus on issues relevant to Caribbean and the Diaspora
October 20, 2017
Don Levy didn’t think twice when asked to sponsor the inaugural lecture that will have themes that are relevant to Jamaican, Caribbean and Black diaspora communities.
When former Citizenship Court judge Pamela Appelt makes the call, the words ‘no’ or ‘let me think about it’ aren’t appropriate responses.
He also saw a personal connection to the event.
“It was an easy decision because in so many ways, I am inextricably linked to every facet and fabric of what this event is all about and what it stands for,” he said at last week’s lecture at York University. “So whether as a Jamaican, a part of the diaspora, a York University graduate or a firm believer in the value of education and the objectives of the Jean Augustine Chair in Education here at York, every aspect resonates well with me.”
Levy is the managing director and portfolio manager of Confido Wealth Management Group at Manulife Securities in Oakville.
“From a business perspective, everything we stand for as a business such as helping families create wealth, not only for their own economic sustenance but also to achieve significance by leaving a legacy both for the next generationand the community, aligns with the values of the Jean Augustine Chair,” he noted. “So in every way, it was an easy decision for me.”
A graduate of Jamaica’s Kingston College, Levy arrived in Canada in 1983 and graduated with a degree in economics and political science three years later from York University.
He’s a participant in the Adopt-A-School program started 30 years ago by the Project for the Advancement of Childhood Education (PACE) to support early childhood institutions in Jamaica.
“It is only fitting that as we celebrate Jamaica’s 55th year of independence that I start with this support as a token of my gratitude to the country of my birth that has forged, shaped and endowed me with the drive to succeed,” added Levy.
The Jean Augustine Chair in Education, Community & Diaspora at York University and the Jamaica 55 Canada Committee, co-chaired by Appelt and Joe Halstead, presented the lecture.
“This inaugural lecture pauses to recognize another milestone in the history of the Jamaican nationhood,” said Dr. Andrea Davis who chairs the humanities department and holds cross-appointments in the graduate programs in English, interdisciplinary studies and gender, feminist and women’s studies at York University. “Marking the moment in the same year as Canada’s 150th anniversary of confederation, we are attentive to the political, economic, historical and cultural intersections that make the evolving stories of these two countries within the shared space of the Americas. We also tonight pause to consider how Jamaican-Canadians with deep loyalties both to their nation of origin and their new nation of residence map the in-between spaces of diaspora to negotiate the slippery relationships between the past and present as we seek to articulate a future project of national and global belonging.”
Janice Miller, Jamaica’s high commissioner to Canada, noted that the project celebrates the immense impact made by Jamaicans in Canada in the last 55 years.
“It also recognizes the invaluable roles played by so many distinguished Jamaicans in developing Canada and strengthens the partnership which is so much valued by the Government of Jamaica with its diaspora,” she said.
A panel discussion on the role of the diaspora in national development featured Jamaica’s Member of Parliament Juliet Holness who is the wife of Prime Minister Andrew Holness.
The other panellists were Queen’s University associate professor Dr. Beverley Mullings, University of Toronto Student Union executive director Tka Pinnock and Hitachi Canada Ltd. chairman Howard Shearer, the son of late Jamaican PM Hugh Shearer.
“We have chosen panellists from some of our leading universities,” said Appelt. “These are individuals who recognize that education confers a moral responsibility to serve a human quest to fulfil a constructive mission in the service of others. They understand the importance of community development and are doing their bit to lift as they climb.”