Caribana founder honoured at Vincentian independence gala
November 9, 2017
The chair of the city’s first Caribbean carnival parade was posthumously honoured at an annual event in the city organized by the St. Vincent & the Grenadines Association of Toronto (SVGAT) which his late brother played a key role in launching nearly five decades ago.
Dr. Alban Liverpool chaired the Caribbean Committee for Cultural Advancement (CCCA) that staged the inaugural carnival in 1967.
He migrated to Canada to join the Canadian Armed Forces in World War II and graduated at the top of his Officer Cadet class in 1953 as a member of the Canadian Officers Training Corps.
After graduating from McGill University where he was the president of the Pre-med and West Indian Student societies, Liverpool came to Toronto in 1956, interned at St. Joseph’s Hospital, established the College Euclid Clinic in Toronto that was operational for 12 years up until 1978 and was the chief physician at the former Doctors Hospital department of medicine.
In 1975, he went to the Bahamas on secondment from the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Assistance to serve as the medical co-ordinator at the Princess Margaret Hospital and, four years later, he moved to Barbados to practice medicine, providing a speciality in allergy.
Liverpool, who had a passion for golf, returned to Toronto in 1999 and passed away six years later at age 85.
As was his request, Liverpool – he died on the 60th anniversary of V-day which marked the end of World War II -- was buried in his military uniform.
Consul General Fitzgerald Huggins presented the special award to Liverpool’s children – Camille Liverpool-Barnett and Ronald Liverpool -- at the SVGAT awards celebration to mark the islands’ 38th independence anniversary.
“Our dad did a lot for this community and we know he would be proud of this recognition,” said his daughter who has been a Bahamian resident for the last 37 years.
St. Vincent & the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves and the islands Ministry of Foreign Affairs gave their blessings for Liverpool to be accorded the special honour.
“This man was one of the founders of Caribana and it’s important that people know that a Vincentian was part of that group that started what has become North America’s largest street summer party which celebrated its 50th anniversary this year,” said Huggins. “We should also not forget that he made vast contributions in the medical field.”
Liverpool’s younger brother, Dr. Allan Liverpool who was a dental surgeon and a member of the CCCA, set the wheels in motion for the creation of the SVGAT which celebrates its 50th anniversary next year. The organization emerged following a meeting he convened in November 1968 to raise funds to enhance Arnos Vale Playing Field in St. Vincent & the Grenadines.
Allan Liverpool returned to St. Vincent & the Grenadines in 1976 and opened a dental office in Kingstown. He died in July 1990.
In 2005, the SVGAT started a scholarship program that has awarded thousands of dollars to young people in the Greater Toronto Area.
Taisha Lewis, the only Black lawyer at LaBarge Weinstein in Ottawa, is one of the beneficiaries.
“The most significant aspect of the scholarship program is that it has encouraged our young people to pursue higher education,” she said in the keynote address. “In life, I have had my own backers and they include my family, friends, teachers, guidance counsellors and church. But I have also had this association in my corner, encouraging me while I was in high school. There’s something about having someone else believe in you even when you have doubts about yourself. Sometimes, it can be the kind of motivation that makes the difference between getting to the finish line and giving up half way.”
Graduating in 2006 from Pope John Paul II Catholic Secondary School international baccalaureate program, Lewis completed her undergraduate degree with honours at McMaster University four years later and her law degree in 2013 at the University of Ottawa where she was awarded the Vern Krishna and the Students Federation of the University of Ottawa Educational Foundation scholarships.
She also completed Osgoode Hall Law School’s secured lending & debt finance professional development program last year.
An associate in her firm’s corporate, commercial and securities group, Lewis’ practice focuses on domestic and cross-border mergers and acquisitions, as well as equity and debt financings, including private placements and public offerings. She also has assisted a broad range of clients, including start-ups, private companies, public issuers and underwriters.
Lewis told the audience that St. Vincent & the Grenadines has a lot to be proud of after 38 years of independence.
The southern Caribbean nation severed ties with Britain on October 27, 1979.
“I believe that we have accomplished the things that we have over the years because we have encouraged each other and our youth, we have worked together, we have been resilient and we kept our faith strong,” added Lewis who was called to the Ontario Bar in 2014. “If we can continue to do these things over the coming years, I promise you that we will continue to see great rewards.”
Glendon Carmichael, who has served the SVGAT in several capacities, was conferred with honourary life membership while Randy Dopwell, who graduated from Humber College’s radio & broadcasting program, was the recipient of a special recognition award.
Gideon Exeter heads the SVGAT board of directors that also comprise Sandra Bobb, Dennis Bucchan, Daffodil Davis, Kenneth Farrell, Erline Granderson, Zakiya Hutchinson, Prudence Morton and Winston Woodley.