Philanthropist Wes Hall to receive UWI honourary degree
July 27, 2017
Pursuing tertiary education after high school wasn’t an option for Wes Hall.
His family didn’t have the financial resources to send him to university in Jamaica or anywhere for that matter.
Hall came to Canada in 1985 to join his father who was a factory worker.
He completed high school three years later and rose from a junior mailroom clerk at one of Canada’s top business law firms to become a relationship manager at CIBC Mellon, business development and sales manager at Georgeson Canada where he saw the huge potential in advising on proxy wars and the founder of Kingsdale Shareholder Services that changed its name to Kingsdale Advisors at the beginning of the year.
Without having to take any courses or sit exams, the highly successful businessman and philanthropist will receive an honourary degree from the University of the West Indies (UWI) later this year.
“This definitely is a huge honour for a guy who grew up in Jamaica watching a lot of people much smarter than me passing exams and going off to university,” Hall, who is often called on to assist in transactions that reshape corporate Canada’s landscape, said. “I didn’t get that opportunity and people concluded I wasn’t as smart as everybody else. This honour sort of validates that maybe I am.”
None of his family members were fortunate to attend UWI.
“That’s why this recognition is so special because I am the first in my extended Jamaican family to get a degree from a university,” said Hall who grew up in poverty and has a photo in his office of his maternal grandmother who raised him as a reminder that his achievements mustn’t be taken for granted.”
Education and health care are two things that the 2016 UWI Toronto Benefit Gala vice-chancellor award recipient is very passionate about.
Hall donated $1 million to the SickKids Caribbean Initiative to help build health care capacity in the region and $20,000 to the UWI Toronto benefit gala this year.
“More than that, Wes opened his Rolodex for us and we sold out for the first time and made a profit of about $500,000 which is the most we have made since the gala started nine years ago,” said co-patron Donette Chin-Loy Chang.
Before his honourary degree conferral on November 4, Hall will welcome a five-year-old Jamaican boy to Toronto in mid-August.
He played a major role in bringing Kenrick Bogle to the Hospital for Sick Children for life-changing surgery.
The boy has been hospitalized since birth at the Bustamante Hospital for Children in Jamaica with tracheoesophageal fistula which is an abnormal connection between the trachea and esophagus. He can’t walk, talk or eat on his own because of the condition.
Hall met Bogle a year ago while visiting the hospital with Jamaica’s Health Minister Dr. Christopher Tufton.
“There were about five beds in the Intensive Care Unit and Kenrick was lying in one of them,” Hall, who is a SickKids Foundation board director since June 2013, recalled. “Chris asked if there is one thing I could for him and that was to see if I could get this child treated in Canada for his medical condition. I told him I would see what I could do.”
Hall, who two years ago was ranked 42nd in the Canadian Business magazine’s Power 50 grading of the country’s most powerful business people, immediately contacted the hospital.
“When the cost factor came up, I told them not to worry about that and I would take care of it,” he said. “My main concern was getting this child here so he could be taken care of. That was all that I was interested in.”
The cost of the surgery is almost US$320,000.
Hall made a promise to Bogle’s father that his young son will soon be at home to receive him on one of his visits to Jamaica.
“If this was my child in Canada, they would be home with me and my wife months after surgery,” the father of five said. “There was no hope that Kenrick was ever going to leave that hospital if someone hadn’t intervened to help him. I just couldn’t see myself living this ‘cushy’ life in Canada and not doing anything for that little boy.”
Bogle, who will be accompanied by his parents, is expected to spend about six months in Toronto.