BY: ALYSSA MAHADEO
Hero to the black Canadian community, the epitome of excellence, determination and dedication, Harry Jerome was an outstanding African Canadian Olympic Athlete who was an inspiration to African-Canadians everywhere. His legacy has paved the way for many black Canadians over the years, his talent and tenacity on and off the track encouraging a generation of Canadians to “Never Give Up” in their own endeavours.
Harry Jerome was born during a time when the black community faced the negative effects of discrimination of racism very prominently in society. They were an obvious minority in their communities and negative reports followed them everywhere regardless of circumstance. Time and time again, Harry would demonstrate his resilience despite career-threatening injuries or negative reports from the Canadian press about him being a quitter. Each obstacle he overcame would eventually set the stage for his greatest athletic successes, displaying the true power of his determination and will to succeed.
Despite his athletic successes, Harry was always conscious of the challenges facing African Canadians. He was concerned about the opportunity for economic development among African Canadians. He fought to remove wage discrimination barriers against blacks and endeavoured to improve mainstream Canadians’ perception of the black community.
In 1982, Harry Jerome died suddenly at the age of 42. Despite his passing, he left a considerable legacy that is a source of pride for all Canadians.
For the past 35 years, the Annual Harry Jerome Awards has honored that legacy remembering an outstanding African Canadian Olympic athlete, scholar and social advocate, the BBPA Harry Jerome Awards is an annual celebration that pays tribute to those that have followed in his footsteps.
On March 21st, 2018, The Black Business and Professional Association (BBPA) announced the 2018 honorees for the 36th Annual Harry Jerome Awards presented by the BBPA and TD Bank. On April 28th, 16 outstanding and inspirational individuals will be presented with one of the most prestigious national awards in the African-Canadian community. A highly coveted symbol of achievement, the honorees receive awards in sixteen categories, each year.
This year’s categories are Academics, Arts, Athletics, Leadership, Business, Entertainment, Professional Excellence, Health Science, Community Service, Lifetime Achievement, Diversity, Trailblazer, Public Advocacy, Youth Advancement, Media and the President’s Award.
BBPA President, Nadine Spencer, shared “The honorees of this year’s Harry Jerome Awards are truly representative of this year’s theme ‘Our Legacy’. As we look back to where we have started and how far we have come; 36 years of the Harry Jerome Awards is quite an accomplishment and we look forward to continuing to celebrate and honour Black Excellence in Canada.”
The BBPA is proud to honour and celebrate the following award winners:
- Pamela Appelt (Lifetime Achievement Award)
- Nadia Hamilton (Youth Entrepreneur Award)
- Dr. Kwame McKenzie (Trailblazers Award)
- Dr Yabome Gilpin-Jackson (Professional Excellence Award)
- Lamont Wiltshire and Odeen Eccelston (Business Award)
- Jenny Gumbs (Public Advocacy Award)
- Carolyn Marful (Leadership Award)
- Jully Black (Entertainment Award)
- Kien Crosse (Academics Award)
- Mike Yorke (Diversity Award)
- Pauline Christine (President Award)
- Rowan Barrett Jr (Athletics Award)
- Keith Merith (Community Service Award)
- Matt Galloway (Media Award)
- Luke Welch (Arts Award)
- Floydeen Charles Fridel (Health Science Award)
“We look for members in a community who are long-standing in their position and long-standing in paving the way for other members to come on board in that industry whichever industry they are in” explains Marcia Bowen, Chair of the Harry Jerome Awards.
All award nominees must be African Canadian and are chosen through an application process. Accomplishments and achievements for the advancement and improvement of the community are taken into consideration and individuals who have demonstrated outstanding excellence are chosen to receive this prestigious honor.
This year’s award recipients are men and women who have demonstrated through their work, educational pursuits and achievements that they are shining examples of the Harry Jerome Legacy. These individuals hold high ranking positions in the community bearing titles such as CEO, law enforcement official, international recording artist, a former diplomat, social justice advocate, and entrepreneur all highly educated dreamers, who are ready to take action continue to build in our legacy.
In the years to come their hope is that others will continue to lead by this example and inspire the next generation of African Canadians. Fighting and advocating for the community, overcoming obstacles and dedicating themselves the way Harry Jerome did to create positive change.
Founded in 1983, the BBPA is a charitable organization whose mission is to advance Canada’s black community by facilitating the delivery of programs that support business and professional excellence, higher education and economic development. The BBPA presents the Annual Harry Jerome Awards, the BBPA National Scholarships and the National Black Business and Professional Convention (NBBPC), alongside workshops and programs at the BBPA Centre of Excellence.
The 36th Annual BBPA Harry Jerome Awards, presented TD Bank, will be held on April 28th, 2018 at The International Centre, 6900 Airport Rd. Tickets for the Harry Jerome Awards are $200; the Early Bird Rate is $175, until March 31st, 2018.