BY: SIMONE JENNIFER SMITH
“Alright, what the hell am I going to wear this time?” I thought to myself as I looked at the press release. I know; girly response you say, but it was one of the first thoughts that came to my mind. I had just been invited to another celebration event being hosted by Brand EQ, and I already knew what to expect. I am not sure if you all remember the Jean Augustine Experience; well, they were responsible for that. Their campaign strategies have shaped them as the marketing and communication company to go to in Toronto. Nadine Spencer, Brand EQ CEO, and Courtney Kazembe, with his team at Kazembe and Associates, are putting on a celebration honouring an amazing man. On Friday, November 10th, 2017, at 6:00 pm, there will be a celebration like no other, celebrating 80 years of a legend’s life. Going to one of their events is always an experience, and now that I am representing my community, it is important that I represent well.
Still didn’t have an outfit, but I realized that it was time to get over that and start doing some research. Who is Mr. Jane and Finch, and how do I properly introduce him? To list of what I have learned, would take up more space then The Toronto Caribbean Newspaper allots me. The first thought of Mr. Winston LaRose when I looked him up was, “What a gentle looking man.” What I didn’t realize is that this gentle man, had single-handedly shaped the lives of many young people. Mr. Winston LaRose was born and raised in Guyana and had moved to Canada in 1964. We have all heard about the Underground Railroad and understand that living in Canada was far better than living in The United States of America, but what some of us don’t realize is that racism was alive and well right here in Ontario.
Like many other great African pioneers, Mr. LaRose had to deal with a level of covert and overt racism. He did so with a stoic grace and has become a patriarchal symbol in the Greater Toronto Area. I am still learning the extent of Mr. LaRose’s impact, but I thought I would share what I have found so far:
- In 1966, Mr. LaRose co-founded the Hamilton Guyanese Canadian Cultural Association
- He became a member of the Ontario Black History Society in the early 90’s and accepted a position as a board member of the Caribana Arts Group
- In 1994, Mr. LaRose joined the African Canadian Communication & Broadcasting Corporation and Executive Director of the Jane-Finch Concerned Citizens Organization (JFCCO) and became the President in 2013.
- Introduced the Women on the Move Sewing Program in 1999
- Harry Jerome Award for Community Service in 2010
- Won awards at the Ontario Canadian Masters Championships in the following events: 100M, 200M, long jump, and high jump (2010)
- Spearheading the initiative to launch the first Caribana Festival in York region in 2011
- Founding Chair of the Kiddies’ Carnival
- Received an award from the Afrocentric Alternative School
- Received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Anniversary Celebrations in 2012
It is interesting; every time I research one of our pioneers, I am humbled by what I see. With all that he has done, when I listen to him speak or read what has already been written about him, I am amazed at how much we all have to learn. Many of us, including me at some points, are eager to be recognized for the work that we are doing. What we don’t realize is that our work is speaking for itself. We must be patient, keep at it, and focus on our purpose. I am honoured to be attending this event because I know that I will learn about how to become a leader in my community. Now, I just have to decide on this outfit.