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Kenyon Hemans
Sydney Lehman from Indiana University School of Optometry and a volunteer with Cornerstone Jamaica’s ‘See Better. Learn Better’ programme is animated as she assesses a student.

Published:Saturday | March 21, 2020 | 12:05 AM Danae Hyman/Gleaner Writer

WHAT STARTED out through the observation of children on the street, turned into a passion project for Gary Robinson, founder of Cornerstone Jamaica and its flagship programme, ‘See Better. Learn Better’. Partnering with the Rotary Club of Negril, … read more

Article: PM Holness to Attend Town Hall Meeting in New York Pg. 3

Article: Jamaican Diaspora Being Underutilized Pg. 3

Article: US Based Diaspora Form Crime Prevention Task Force Pg. 5

Captain Rupert Francis resides in Northern California.  Many members from our Association and Northern California are a part of this task force.

Read the articles at the link below;

Jamaican Stakeholders —

You may recall I am Hansen, director of Vonery Inc., a Florida Corporation and registered 501(c) (3) Organization, established to provide technology empowerment in a wide range of social, economic and cultural areas. Vonergy and SEMPER AQUATIC FOOD EXPORTS, LLC. (S.A.F.E.) recently entered into a joint venture and would like to discuss options for working together on an initiative, which I am confident could have an impact on Jamaica’s future.

The main objective of this S.A.F.E. and Vonergy, joint venture Farm project is to manufacture and deliver a lightweight portable container housing sustainable Aquaculture, Aquaponic and Aeroponic systems, Rainwater harvesting, Clean water production with renewable power generation utilizing wind and solar power for the sustainable production of organic fish and crops.

Abstract: Solar and wind generation powering sustainable Aquaculture, Aquaponics, atmospheric water generation, clean water generation, rainwater harvesting, irrigation for farming, agricultural training and education for faculty and students in selected schools/villages throughout Jamaica .

The intent of this system is to provide year round sustainable organic protein food (fish), vegetables, herbs, spices, fruits, clean water, all the while educating future staff, educators, students, electrical, plumbing training, job opportunities with S.A.F.E. FEAST Container sustainability at schools in remote villages of Jamaica.

Jamaica is a prime geographical location for solar and wind generation, using its over 3000 hours of annual sunlight and trade winds to produce optimal amounts of sustainable green energy. This richness of natural resources is the main motivation behind developing this economical system, building it to set up a strong basis for green renewable energy into the school and local economy, monitoring its setup, and teaching students and villagers of selected locations to run and maintain all the systems profitably.

Powering scalable localized food production operation is just a small step enabling Jamaican communities to become self-sufficient with clean water, food production with year-round crop production with sustainable green power generation. The details of our Aquaculture, Aquaponics, optimized agricultural farming, rainwater harvesting, fresh clean water production utilizing wind and solar renewable energy systems, in conjunction with education, will be described in detail in follow-up documentation.

Please let me know if you have an interest in discussing further. Thank you in advance for your response.

claudiaThe White House has a new person in the job to oversee its efforts on disability issues. Claudia Gordon moves over from the Dept of Labor where she dealt with potential discrimination by federal contractors to now work between the Obama administration and the disability community as the White House’s disability liaison. Her new title isassociate director in the White House Office of Public Engagement. The discrimination Gordon experienced as a deaf child in Jamaica compelled her to become a lawyer. Her family moved to the U.S. when she was a child. She attended New York’s Lexington School for the Deaf where she learned sign language and later became the first deaf student to graduate from the American University’s Washington College of Law. Gordon has worked for the National Association of the Deaf Law and Advocacy Center as well as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Growing up, who were your role models?
My mother was my most influential role model. She was a woman of profound faith and perseverance up until the very day she lost her six year battle with ovarian cancer in 2000. Growing up, I witnessed her hard work and sacrifices as she struggled to raise my two siblings and me, all on her own, deep in the rural countryside of Jamaica, W.I. A domestic servant with only an eighth grade education, she literally scrubbed her way to America one garment at a time. When she immigrated to America — the South Bronx — she kept right on working to ensure that within a few years she would be reunited with her three children, whom she had left in the care of her eldest sister, my aunt Mildred Taylor. My mother taught me that we all control our own destiny and should never become victims of our circumstances. She taught me about the unbelievable power of faith and love.

My aunt Mildred was also a very important role model, along with my grandmother Viola Parsons. In truth, I was raised by a community of women. They were always in the background pitching in whenever my Mom was in need. Despite all the hardships, they created a positive environment in which all of us children could be properly nourished with a sense of responsibility, dignity and pride. My aunt Mildred is a teacher, and as such she instilled in us the importance of a good education. At the age of 74, she is still teaching today.
There are scores of other individuals I could name because behind every successful person are plenty of people: role models, mentors, colleagues, friends and family members. No one gets here by him or herself so I am grateful to a lot of people.

How did you become interested in working for the Federal government?
My interest in working for the Federal government was sparked while working as a Skadden Fellow and staff attorney at the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) Law and Advocacy Center from 2000-2002. The NAD operates on a shoe-string budget and the law center staff fluctuates from two to four full time attorneys working tirelessly to keep pace with incoming discrimination claims and requests for technical assistance from among the 36 million deaf and hard of hearing individuals in America. It was there that I confronted the truth that passing legislation is one thing but actual implementation with enforcement is another. I felt that a job with the Federal government would more effectively allow me to affect the actual enforcement of laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, thereby alleviating the blatant discrimination that people with disabilities continue to face.

What inspired you to pursue your field of interest?
When I suddenly lost my ability to hear at the age of eight, I was taken out of school and kept at home to perform chores. Friends slowly disappeared and what was usually a cheerful hello was replaced by an awkward smile, curious stares and even outright ridicule. There were also those long road trips on the bumpy Jamaican roads to distant towns where healers would perform rituals in attempts to cure me. I thought I was the only deaf person in the world. I did not realize until years later that a woman who everyone in my town knew as “dummy,” and who children my age would incessantly harass with stone throwing, was deaf. Looking back, I wish I knew her real name. What I do know is that the life of this woman – ostracized as “dummy” – almost became my own but for my mother’s triumph in successfully bringing me to America by the time I was eleven years old.

By my junior year in high school, I made it known to all that I would go to law school and become an attorney. Many shrugged off my grand intention as wishful thinking. Some cited my deafness as an obstacle rendering it impractical if not impossible to pursue a law degree. Thanks to the values that were instilled in me during my formative years, I understood then that those voices of doubt neither dictated my worth nor my capacity. I want to contribute to a better society where there is more understanding and acceptance of people with disabilities and where the same opportunities are provided for all.

What keeps you motivated?
I am motivated by knowing that although progress is being made towards inclusion and access, there is still a great deal more work to be done. Also, mentoring youth and young adults with disabilities keeps me motivated. I have an innate desire to give back. It is uplifting when you are able to empower another and help someone discover a sense of self-worth and confidence in his or her abilities.

Jamaica has a long history of census taking with the first modern census being conducted in 1943. The Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) recently compiled its findings for the 2011 Census. Read the report here: Jamaica Summed Up.pdf


Mr. President,
Allow me to congratulate you on your assumption of the Presidency of this 67th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. I assure you of the full support and cooperation of the Jamaican delegation as you carry out your duties.

I place on record my delegation’s appreciation to His Excellency Mr. Nassir Al-Nasser, for his invaluable guidance of the work of the General Assembly during its 66th Session.

I also thank the United Nations Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, and the staff of the UN Secretariat, for their dedication and hard work in serving Member States. Mr. President, There is a tale of a young woman from a deep, rural village in Jamaica who was approached by a political candidate seeking to represent her community. “What is it you want most from your representatives?” the candidate asked her. The young woman considered the question for a moment. Slowly and thoughtfully she replied,

All I want is an opportunity…I want you to provide me and my family with a living environment in which I can work, contribute and prosper. Most of all, I want you to provide for my family an environment that is safe and secure”.

Mr. President, our respective peoples have for hundreds of years looked to their leaders with great expectations. They elected governments that they felt could provide them with the greatest sense of wellbeing and security. Historically and to this present day, they look to heads of state and government to provide them, their families, communities and ultimately their respective nations with leadership and direction that foster that all-important sense of well-being, and feeling ‘secure’. Over time, across the world there has been an increasing sense of impatience and agitation born of a sense of growing global insecurity.

Accordingly, the UN agenda has expanded its focus to address the multifaceted challenges of food security, climate change, global pandemics and the global economic and financial crisis. We have already witnessed citizens from several nations ‘spring’ into action with demands for change.

Others chose to ‘occupy’ various spaces in protest. In light of this reality, many of you…indeed many of us as leaders stand as buffers between apathy and anarchy. The theme for this year’s session of the Assembly, “Bringing about adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations by peaceful means”, is most appropriate and timely, given current events in a number of countries and regions which pose a threat to international peace and security. It is reflective of the call made by that young woman who simply asked her representative to provide for her and hers …an environment that is safe and secure”. Yet, her request is not as simple as it appears: The insecurity, impatience and unease that have emerged worldwide are explosive accelerants. They emerge from the heart-breaking scourge of poverty that is so aptly described by the Jamaican National Hero, Marcus Mosiah Garvey, who reminded us that:

“Poverty is a hellish state to be in.
It is no virtue.
It is a crime.
To be poor is to be hungry without possible hope of food;
To be sick without hope of medicine;
To be tired and sleepy without a place to lay one’s head;
To be naked without the hope of clothing;
To be despised and comfortless…

Mr. President,
We must seek to rid ourselves of conditions which lead to poverty. We must pursue social and economic policies that will ensure social equity and justice for our people and increase their wellbeing and sense of security. This can only be achieved if we, as Member States, work together in good faith to secure the sustainable future we agreed to at Rio. Let us create the future we want…and put our people first.

Mr. President, The global economy continues to be beset by uncertainty. This is compounded by the lingering negative effects of the financial and economic crises. The global shocks have affected all our peoples. They threaten our communities; weaken our families…and challenge individuals everywhere – regardless of hemisphere or region…whether they live in ‘developed’ or ‘developing’ countries…situated in the North, South, East or West. Some have fewer options than others. This is a vicious ‘cycle of insecurity’.

We dare not forget that a significant proportion of the world’s poorest citizens live in Middle Income Countries. This is a diverse group which includes large developing economies and Small Island Developing States (SIDS), such as those in the Caribbean. Many of us face common challenges. Several are highly indebted and extremely vulnerable to external shocks and natural disasters. We face significant obstacles in our efforts to spur economic recovery and growth. We are hampered by the volatility of energy and food prices, decreases in export commodity prices, and weak capital inflows. Increasing food prices cause untold hardships for many of our people, particularly the most vulnerable in our societies.

Small countries need greater support to build resilience to economic and environmental shocks. I come to you today from such a nation. Jamaica is a nation “ small in size but enormous in spirit. A nation with a people whose speed defies the laws of physics, whose musical messages have inspired positive and revolutionary global change and whose minds have provided the world with myriad solutions in areas including science, law and medicine. Yet, many nations like Jamaica have such great possibility and potential that are not reflected in, or reflective of its present economic indicators.

Reforms in global economic governance, including the international financial institutions, are required to take into account the need for special and differential treatment for small and vulnerable economies. Refocusing of the development agenda in terms of financial flows, will also go a long way in helping to bolster our natural resilience and resolve. We commend UNCTAD on the work which it has done over the last forty-eight years to advance the trade and development agenda and to assist developing countries. There is still much to be done and we look forward to working with the full range of development partners.

Mr. President, There is aparticularly vulnerable group – the women and children of our world for whom, what we call ‘external shocks’, cause real and serious dislocation in their daily lives. Too many mothers have to face tough choices to meet their basic needs. Too many children are subjected to violence and abuse. Children, especially girls, are being used as pawns for economic gain, including through human trafficking and other exploitative actions. Human trafficking is a dastardly threat to the welfare of our women, girls and boys. Our ancestors fought for our freedom. It is disgraceful that at this juncture of world history we should see the emergence of a form of modern-day slavery which renders women, girls and boys to be traded as chattel.

Many vulnerable young women are deceived and lured away by attractive offers to get them and their families out of poverty. They then find themselves in a strange land, with no support, no identity and no hope of returning home; sold into modern day slavery, their very bodies used as a currency of exchange. Jamaica is resolute in its commitment to strengthening local and national programmes to eliminate violence against women and children. At the same time, I call on the international community to take bold actions to address this scourge. Issues that affect women and children must be central to decision-making processes. We look forward to continued collaboration with UN Women and the international community to help break this cycle of exploitation and insecurity.

Mr. President, the devastating impact of HIV/AIDS and non-communicable diseases also propels the ‘cycle of global insecurity’. Jamaica is cognisant of the considerable investment that the United Nations and the international community have made in the fight against HIV/AIDS. This support has allowed developing countries, including Jamaica, to make a difference in the lives of those affected. Nevertheless, Mr. President, inadequate human and financial resources constrain our ability to scale-up testing and treatment, as well as to implement programmes to increase awareness and reduce the risk of new infections.

The developing world and lower income populations are hardest hit by the impact of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs). The high social and developmental costsof NCDs demand concerted policy actions at the national and international levels. We must implement the outcomes of the High-Level Meeting on NCDs held last year.

Mr. President, We are on the threshold of 2015, the target date for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The results thus far have been uneven. We need to reinvigorate Millennium Development Goal 8 – the Global Partnership for Development. I wish to underscore the situation associated with our Middle Income Country status. Country categorisations should not serve as obstacles to delivering support to the world’s poorest and most vulnerable.

We urge that middle income countries not be pushed to the margins of the development agenda, nor be put on the fringe of the development assistance provided by the international community.

A review of the factors used by the relevant multilateral agencies in the measurement of a country’s wealth is urgently needed. We are supportive of the proposals put forward by ECLAC for an alternative but complementary approach to the criterion of per capita income for the allocation of financing for development.

Mr. President, I now turn to global political developments. The cycle of insecurity transcends borders. Recent events have called attention to the fragility of peace and security in many parts of the globe and underscore the importance of respect for the rule of law, democracy and good governance. Jamaica reiterates its adherence to the principles of the United Nations Charter, multilateralism and the inviolability of diplomatic institutions in the conduct of relations among States. We will continue to add our voice to the ongoing work at the United Nations to secure human rights, justice, social equity and the peaceful settlement of disputes.

Transnational crime, narco-trafficking and the illicit trade in small arms and ammunition are major components of the cycle of insecurity. They continue to endanger lives, undermine the rule of law, and fuel violent crime. We remain resolute in our call for increased partnership to fight this scourge and will continue to work with all delegations to achieve a comprehensive and robust Arms Trade Treaty. The conflict in Syria poses a real threat to international peace and security. We are deeply concerned at the escalating internal violence and the resulting loss of life. It is our conviction that this conflict can still be resolved through political and diplomatic means. We continue to urge the leaders of Israel and the Palestinian Authority to resume negotiations as early as possible, based on the two-state solution and relevant United Nations resolutions.

These address Israel’s right to exist within secure borders as well as the aspirations of the Palestinian people for self-determination and statehood. We must ensure that the UN remains relevant to its membership through a process of reform of its organs, including the Security Council. Negotiations should proceed urgently towards a satisfactory conclusion.

Mr. President,
More than two years after the devastating earthquake, Haiti’s plight remains deeply troubling. We are concerned that only a fraction of the pledges have been disbursed and yet the humanitarian situation in Haiti is perilous. As a close friend and neighbour of Haiti, with strong historical ties, I encourage members of the international community to make good on their commitments. The Haitian people need our continued support.

The long-standing trade and economic embargo against Cuba, another close neighbour and friend of Jamaica, has had severe negative effects on its growth and development. Jamaica reiterates its call for an end to the embargo against Cuba and the extra-territorial measures aimed at extending its reach to include third countries.

Mr. President,
Jamaica continues to work with our partners to erect a memorial at the United Nations to honour the victims of slavery and the transatlantic slave trade. We are grateful for the generous contributions received to date to erect the permanent memorial and reiterate the call for continued financial support.

Mr. President,
Fifty years ago, upon gaining our independence, Jamaica committed itself to the aims of the United Nations and fully accepted the responsibilities of membership. Our national pledge commits each and every Jamaican to stand up for justice, brotherhood and peace and to play our part in advancing the welfare of the whole human race. We will not resile from this commitment. Let us work together to end the cycle of global insecurity. Let us provide an opportunity for every man, woman and child to fulfill their God-given potential.

I leave you with the words of Robert Nesta ‘Bob’ Marley, who sang:
One Love, One heart…
Mr. President,
I hope that the peoples of the world will one day live together in peace, love, security and prosperity.
I thank you


Jamaican-born Angella Reid last week made White House history when she was appointed Director of the President’s Executive Residence and Chief Usher. She is the first woman, first Jamaican-American and ninth person to serve in that role.

The 52-year-old, who was born in Trinityville, St. Thomas, is the former general manager of the Ritz-Carlton in Pentagon City, Virginia. She has worked in the hotel industry for several years, holding down top jobs in the luxury chain.

Members of the Jamaican community in Maryland, Virginia and Washington DC, have expressed pride in Reid’s appointment. “I know it would only be a matter of time before a Jamaican served in the White House. The Jamaican community is very vibrant in this region, highly educated and very supportive of the Democratic president,” said Kameisha Phillips, who is also a hotel executive in Virginia.

Reid was once a protégé of hotel industry guru, Myrtle Dwyer, current director of sales and marketing at Glamour Destination Management.

“When she started training with me in 1978, I saw tremendous potential in her. I encouraged her to take up one of the scholarships to Germany and she did. Since then Angella has never looked back,” Dwyer was reported as saying.

In response to her appointment to the White House job, Reid reportedly told a friend that she is “overly excited by taking on this new position.”

Reid will take over from Rear Admiral Stephen Rochon, who has reportedly accepted a job with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. She will be responsible for Executive Residence activities as well as operations on the Executive Residence grounds. She will oversee the annual inventory of White House property; liaise with the White House Historical Association, the Committee for the Preservation of the White House, the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, and other entities to preserve the home of the U.S. president.

Reid will take up her new position in November.

For Immediate Release:
Contact: Annemarie Stephens
Phone: 510-759-2491

Northern California Chapter of the National Association of Minority Contractors (NAMC) in conjunction with Everett & Jones BBQ Jack London Square welcomes Deputy Associate Director in The White House Office of Public Engagement
To Oakland, CA.

(Washington, DC, July 9th, 2011) – Michael A Blake, White House Associate Director, Office of Public Engagement Outreach to the African-American & Minority Business community will visit Oakland, California on Wednesday July 13th for a presentation to minority business owners at Everett & Jones BBQ from 6:30pm – 8:30pm.

Mr. Blake, who began his work on the Obama Campaign as the Deputy Political Director and State Constituency Outreach Director in Iowa, continues to work as a community organizer in his current role as, Deputy Associate Director in The White House Office of Public Engagement.
Blake nationally coordinates outreach to the African-American and minority business communities. Mr. Blake’s presentation on Wednesday is expected to address today’s challenging economic climate and highlight various federal programs put in place by the Obama Administration specifically to address the needs among African-American & Minority Businesses.

In July 1969, more than 300 minority contractors met in San Francisco to gather forces and discuss ways to help the mainstream of the construction industry. By the end of the meeting, the National Association of Minority Contractors was formed. Len Turner Chairman of the Northern California National Association Minority Contractors say’s “The goals of NAMC today remain the same today ” to educate ourselves, our workers and our communities; to maintain a voice in Washington relative to our needs; and to increase our market share in the construction industry.”

Everett & Jones BBQ Jack London is very fitting for this presentation to take place, being on of Oakland’s leading minority business owners. Dorothy King may finally get the answer to her question displayed on a banner which hung over her restaurant for most of 2009 asking “Where is my Bail Out?”

Wednesday July 13th, 2011 join the National Association of Minority Contractors and Everett & Jones BBQ in welcoming Michael A Blake, White House Associate Director, Office of Public Engagement & Outreach to the African-American & Minority Businesses to Oakland, for a presentation to minority business owners at Everett & Jones BBQ Jack London Square 123 Broadway, corner of 2nd street in Oakland from 6:30pm – 8:30pm.

This event is free and open to the public.


Poets & Passion, the literary series and open mic sessions featuring Caribbean writers, ends the year with readings by novelists Andrene Bonner (Jamaica) and Elizabeth Nunez (Trinidad & Tobago) in the Bronx on Wednesday, December 8 and poets Christian Campbell (Bahamas/Trinidad & Tobago) and Jacinth Henry-Martin (St. Kitts-Nevis) on Thursday, December 9 in Brooklyn.

With these four award-winning writers, this year the series would have featured 23 novelists, poets, spoken word artists, folklorists, cultural critics and bloggers, representing 11 countries; doing work in Dutch, English, French and derivative creoles. The programs, conducted in venues as diverse as college campuses, community centers and City Hall, took place over 17 sessions in all 5 boroughs of New York City.
Poets & Passion is a project of the Brooklyn, NY based Caribbean Cultural Theatre, a multi-disciplinary arts organization presenting work for the stage, screen and page that honours a balanced rendering of Caribbean culture and the Caribbean-American experience.
The second program in the inaugural season in the Bronx, takes place on Wednesday, December 8 beginning at 7pm at the Karl & Faye Rodney Resource Center, 2230 Light Street (corner Dyre Ave.). Featured writers will be Andrene Bonner, Olympic Gardens and Elizabeth Nunez, Anna In-Between.

Ms. Bonner is an accomplished poet, actress, singer, folk life specialist and educator in the Mt Vernon School District, in Westchester County, NY. Her debut novel, Olympic Gardens garnered her the Lorna Goodison Caribbean Award for Transformative Literature in 2009. Dr. Nunez is an award-winning author of seven novels, including Prospero’s Daughter (New York Times Editors’ Choice; 2006 Novel of the Year, Black Issues Book Review) and Bruised Hibiscus (American Book Award). Prospero’s Daughter also has the distinction of being selected for the One Book, One Community national reading project in her native Trinidad & Tobago. She is executive producer of the NY Emmy-nominated CUNY TV series Black Writers in America, and cofounder of the National Black Writers Conference.

The Thursday, December 9 program takes place at the Downtown Brooklyn campus of St. Francis College, 182 Remsen Street (between Clinton & Court Streets). Featured writers will be poet Christian Campbell and spoken word artist Jacinth Henry-Martin. The program begins at 7pm.

Dr. Campbell, who claims roots from the Bahamas and Trinidad & Tobago, is a Rhodes Scholar and an assistant professor of English at the University of Toronto. A fellow of New York’s Cave Canem Foundation, he is the recipient of Britain’s prestigious 2010 Aldeburgh Poetry Festival best first collection prize for his debut anthology, Running the Dust. Ms. Henry-Martin, is the author of the poetry anthology Dancing In Bondage. She has served as the Federal Minister of Information, Culture, Youth & Sports, in the St Kitts-Nevis Government and Deputy High Commissioner from St Kitts-Nevis to the United Kingdom.
For reservations and information contact: (718) 783-8345 or (718) 994-5496.

Initiated as a platform for Caribbean-American creative writers to present their work and network, Poets & Passion has evolved into a curious mix literary salon featuring celebrated poets and novelists, emerging New York area talents, spoken work artists, and lovers of the written word. Now in its fifth season, this sharing creativity, experience and insight has featured such renowned literary luminaries as poets Kamau Braithwaite (Barbados), Merle Collins (Grenada) and Linton Kwesi Johnson (UK), and novelists E.R. Braithwaite (Guyana), and Anthony Winkler (Jamaica), as well as rising stars such as Marlon James (Jamaica), The Book of Night Women; Anton Nimblet (Trinidad & Tobago), Sections of an Orange; Yolaine St. Fort (Haiti), From the Crown of Your Heads; and Tiphanie Yanique (Virgin Islands), How to Escape from a Leper Colony.

The series is supported in part with public resources from New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, New York State Council on the Arts, and Material for the Arts, with additional assistance from the American Foundation of the University of the West Indies, Bahamian American Cultural Society, Jamaica Progressive League, Poets & Writers, Inc., St. Francis College – Office of Community Relations and Friends of Caribbean Cultural Theatre.

Click on the link below to watch Errol at the Fox News Desk in New York City. Errol and Johnny Moseley were in New York promoting Warren Miller’s film, “Dynasty”. Johnny Moseley is a former Olympic skier. Errol represents Jamaica in the ski cross World Cup and at X Games. Errol plans to compete for Jamaica in the Vancouver Olympics 2010 in the new Olympic sport of ski cross.

Jamaican-born scientist making strides in nerve research

Published: Monday | January 4, 2010


Keisha Shakespeare-Blackmore, Staff Reporter

Patrice Smith

Dr Patrice Smith, Jamaican-born scientist living in Canada who discovered a new way to repair damaged nerves. – Contributed

Who would have thought that a little girl from Darliston in Westmoreland would turn out to be a First World scientist who may have discovered a new way to repair damaged nerves?

Now living in Canada, Jamaican-born Dr Patrice Smith and her colleagues at Harvard have discovered a way to repair damaged nerves by allowing the adult brain to respond to repair signals that are induced after injury. Dr Smith explained to Flair in an email interview, that as we get older, we lose the ability to repair damage to the brain and spinal cord, because our nervous system is actively preventing the immune system from sending out repair messages. If we get a cold, for example, the immune system kicks in and helps with our recovery. However, if our brain or spinal cord is damaged, this repair message is blocked. What they have discovered is that this mechanism is blocked by a molecule called SOCS3.

“In the absence of SOCS3, the damaged nerves were able to regenerate themselves in an adult. My hope is that the research will help people who suffer from brain and spinal-cord injuries by helping to repair the injuries they may have received in an accident, or just through the natural ageing process,” said Dr Smith.

A curious child

She said she has always been interested in how things work. As a child she was very good at taking apart small appliances and seeing whether she could put them back together.

Her interest in how the brain works began when she migrated to Canada, and took up a summer research job in a neuroscience lab at the University of Ottawa, Canada.

Dr Smith grew up with her grandparents because her mother, Elaine, was just 18 years old when she was born and had to move to Kingston to find work. Her mother later got married and migrated to Canada. Dr Smith joined her after completing her studies at Mannings High school in 1995 at the age of 18.

Her CXC results were not recognised in Canada, so she had to repeat her final year in a Canadian high school. She excelled and obtained a scholarship to attend the University of Ottawa. She received the highest average in her graduating year and was awarded a medal by the Ottawa-Carleton education school board. “I felt that my Jamaican education provided a strong framework for this,” she told Flair.

After completing her doctorate in 2005, she received a scholarship from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) to attend Harvard University, which was where she began her current research. The research took about two years to complete. “I am currently working on extending this research in my own lab back in Canada to look at ways of functionally repairing damaged nerves, following spinal cord and brain injury.”

Benefits of hard work

Dr Smith is currently making waves in the scientific world in Canada, but it is hard work that has put her where she is today. She explained that when she first moved to Canada, it was difficult to adapt to the weather, especially the snow. But she notes that she was fortunate to have met and interacted with some wonderful people throughout her career, who have helped her along the way.

Her field is a male-dominated one, but she has persons around her who are generally “accepting” of a female scientist, although she says she has become used to being the only black female (sometimes the only black person) in her circle.

“And I am still not used to being called ‘Dr Smith’.”

Although her job is challenging, she considers herself blessed to be able to do what she loves as a career. The added incentive is that what she is doing will someday help persons suffering from brain and spinal-cord injuries.

Best friend

Dr Smith told Flair that in 2008 she married her best friend, Ryan, who has been her biggest fan and most avid supporter. “I am truly blessed that we found each other (we met in Canada). Ryan was the one who actually encouraged me to go to Harvard.”

She is currently heading up a medical research lab in Canada, and will continue her research into ways to promote health and well-being.


5 Jamaican athletes cleared of doping


KINGSTON, Jamaica – Five Jamaican athletes were cleared Monday of doping at their national championships two months ago after the country’s anti-doping panel failed to determine whether the banned substance was on the prohibited list.

The athletes reportedly tested positive for the stimulant methylhexanamine. But Kent Gammon, chairman of the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission’s disciplinary committee, said it was unable to prove they had breached any doping policy.

“Therefore, we have not found any of the athletes in violation of the (anti-doping) code,” Gammon said.

The athletes had previously been identified as Yohan Blake, Sheri-Ann Brooks , Allodin Fothergill, Lansford Spence and Marvin Anderson.

The athletes are now cleared to compete in the world championships in Berlin , but the International Association of Athletics Federations – track and field’s governing body and organizer of the worlds – could review the ruling.

The IAAF can challenge any judgments in the Court of Arbitration for Sport, world sport’s highest court of appeal, based in Lausanne , Switzerland . The IAAF can also provisionally suspend athletes until the CAS delivers a verdict.

The anti-doping panel started its hearing last week. None of the five athletes are considered among Jamaica ‘s top talent, but the positive tests were a blow to a nation that takes great pride in the accomplishments of its sprinters.

Monday’s announcement came after Jamaica ‘s Amateur Athletic Association warned another five athletes that they would be barred from the worlds if they did not attend a training camp this week.

Those athletes included 100-meter Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser and Asafa Powell, a former 100 world-record holder. The others are 400 hurdles Olympic gold medalist Melaine Walker, hurdler Brigitte Foster-Hylton and sprinter Shericka Williams.

Recently Dr. Newton Gordon, Honorary Consul of Jamaica in the Bay area and Chairman, Executive Board, Jamaican American Association of Northern California was very instrumental in the procurement and shipment to the pediatric wing of University Hospital, a hand held pulse oximeter.  Dr. Gordon heard about the need after Chief Executive Officer, JAANC, Denise McCallaCreary was given a personal tour of the pediatric wing at the hospital summer 2008.  Sister Heather Davis, Head Nurse expressed great appreciation for the hand held device as they were desperately in need of the equipment. There are two additional stand alone units awaiting shipment.  Anyone desiring to contribute to this project may do so via the website or mail the donation to the Association’s address marked for the “UWI project”.


Institute of Caribbean Studies Announces A Message from…


Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release June 2, 2009


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Caribbean Americans have made lasting contributions to our Nation’s culture and history, and the month of June has been set aside to honor their cultural, linguistic, ethnic, and social diversity.

Generations of immigrants have preserved the traditions of their homelands, and these traditions have defined our Nation’s identity. Caribbean Americans bring a unique and vibrant culture. This multilingual and multiethnic tradition has strengthened our social fabric and enriched the diversity of our Nation.

Millions of individuals in the United States have Caribbean roots. Unfortunately some Caribbean Americans were forced to our country as slaves; others arrived of their own volition. All have sought the promise of a brighter tomorrow for themselves and their children.

In their pursuit of success, Caribbean Americans exhibit the traits all Americans prize: determination, a devotion to community, and patriotism. They have made their mark in every facet of our society, from art to athletics and science to service. Caribbean Americans have also safeguarded our Nation in the United States Armed Forces.

This month we also recognize the critical relationship the United States maintains with Caribbean nations. In a world of increasing communication and connectivity, this friendship has become even more important. We are neighbors, partners, and friends; we share the same aspirations for our children; and we strive for the very same freedoms. Together, we can meet the common challenges we face.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2009 as National Caribbean-American Heritage Month. I urge all Americans to commemorate this month by learning more about the history and culture of Caribbean Americans.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this second day of June, in the year of our Lord two thousand nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-third.


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About Caribbean American Heritage Month

In 2000, ICS began leading the celebration of June as Caribbean American Heritage Month in Washington DC, building on efforts started by a now defunct Ad-Hoc Group of Washington DC residents to have a Caribbean Heritage Month in Washington DC in 1999. The official Campaign for a National Caribbean American Heritage Month began in 2004, when the Bill was tabled in Congress by Congresswoman Barbara Lee. The Bill was reintroduced and passed the House in June, 2005, and the Senate in February, 2006.

During Caribbean-American Heritage Month, we celebrate the great contributions of Caribbean Americans to the fabric of our Nation, and we pay tribute to the common culture and bonds of friendship that unite the United States and the Caribbean countries.

JAANC participates in the International Festival of Cultures, at UC Berkeley. Featuring dancers C2K from Los Angeles, our CEO Denise McCallaCreary manning a booth, Jamaican folk singers and drummer Val Savant.


Friends of Trelawny to Stage 26th Annual Reunion Weekend in New York.
Derrick A Scott Washington DC

Plans are in high gear for the staging of the Friends of Trelawny Association Inc. (FOTA ) 26th Annual Weekend to be held May 23rd – 26th in New York .

The reunion which brings together members of the Trelawny community residing in the United States , Canada , United Kingdom and Australia this year will showcase the myriad of developments now occurring and those scheduled for later within the parish of Trelawny.

The weekend activities will commence with the annual Dinner/Dance on Friday, May 23rd at the Holiday Inn JFK in Jamaica , New York . U.S. Congresswoman Yvette Clarke and Falmouth ’s mayor Junior Gager and Dr. Patrick Harris Member of Parliament for North Trelawny will be special guests.

On Saturday, May 24th Trelawny will be on display when FOTA will stage the Trelawny Expo & Symposium at the JFK Holiday Inn Grand Ballroom with its theme “Trelawny Sailing to Success” at 9:00 A.M.

Tourism Minister Ed Barlett will declare the Expo officially open. According to this year’s Expo director Paul Earle, the hotel ballroom will be converted into a Jamaica/Trelawny exhibition center. Mr. Earle outlined that the displays will include The Hampden Wharf Development, Harmony Cove, Jamaica Tourist Board, Jamaica Trade & Invest (JTI), Elmira Duncan’s Bay Housing Development, Grace Kennedy, Western Union , and Jamaica National. Mr. Earle also emphasize that the committee is still accepting additional exhibitors, who he say will have an opportunity to showcase their products and business opportunities to the expected large turnout of not only Jamaicans, but other interested investors who are invited by the organization.

Later that afternoon, Jamaica Trade and Investment will hold a Trade and Investment seminar. Panelist will include Minister of Tourism Ed Bartlett, will highlight the government’s approach to the development and the role of the Jamaica Diaspora; Scotia Bank Group of Jamaica CEO Bill Clarke, will offer his assessment from the private sector and how his company will play a pivotal role in future developments; Famouth’s Mayor Junior Gager, Member of Parliament Dr. Patrick Harris, and representatives from the Port Authority.

The weekend will come to a close on Sunday, May 26th with the staging of the 26th Annual Trelawny Reunion Picnic at the Rockland County State Park in Nyack , New York . The picnic is said to be the largest gathering of any group of Jamaicans residing overseas. Last year the State Park police estimated over 6000 persons were in attendance. According to the chairman of FOTA Patrick Beckford the picnic is expected to attract just over 8000 former residents and friends of Trelawny.

For more information folks can email:, or via phone Derrick Scott (202) 316 -9262 and Tomlin Anderson (347) 581-2320.

The Jamaican Diaspora Southern United States proudly presents “Shaping Our Future: One Aim, One Destiny.”

This free, one day Jamaica Youth Forum, geared toward South Florida high school and college students, seeks to enlighten and engage our young leaders in discussion relevant to their success in the U.S. and abroad. Registration is free and is now available online at

The Forum will be held at the University of Miami on Saturday, April 12, from at 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. This year’s events will be streamed LIVE on the internet and will be broadcasted at

Engaging forum discussion topics include Making an Impact, Building Relationships, and Cultural Identity and a dynamic welcome address will be provided by Mr. Ricardo Allicock, Consul General of Jamaica, and Attorney Marlon Hill.

“As an immigrant community adjusting to life in the United States, we face unique challenges and issues. This Forum is intended to expose these issues not only for the young people, but also for the parents and caregivers. Technology will help to broaden the conversation to a wider audience in the Diaspora,” stated Marlon Hill, Jamaican Diaspora Advisory Board Member for the Southern United States.

Noted panelists will include Dr. Lloyd Cohen, President of the Jamaican Association of Miami-Dade Educators, David Mullings, Co-Chair of Jamaica Youth Forum and CEO of Realvibez Media, Dr. Percy Ricketts, Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Scott Hamilton, FIU Student advisor and mentor, and Kelliann McDonald, founder of the Jamaican-American Student Association (JAMSA) at the University of Florida.

Continental breakfast and lunch will be provided courtesy of community partners such as Jamaica National, Dr. Jarrett’s Wellness Center, and Western Union/Grace Kennedy.

“We are now in full immersion of an internet generation. We have a great opportunity to share this conversation on important issues both here in the United States and abroad. We welcome all interested parties to register online and attend the Forum,” added Mr. Mullings.

All interested parties are invited to contact the host committee at, or visit to register online.

ABOUT THE DIASPORA: The Jamaican Diaspora includes all Jamaican nationals and persons of Jamaican heritage, their family and friends, who reside overseas around the world, including the Southern United States. The Jamaican Diaspora Movement is a historic opportunity to unite and galvanize all Jamaicans, their talents, resources, and potential throughout the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and around the world for the benefit of their local communities and the future development and support of Jamaica.

For more information on the Jamaican Diaspora Southern United States – Call: (786)349-2584 in the U.S. ● (876) 621-0102 in Jamaica ● Facsimile: (786) 551-0785 or Email:


Former Jamaican Prime Minister P.J. Patterson to be honored at Caribbean American Heritage celebration in Northern California

Oakland, CA –The Northern California Caribbean American Heritage Month Committee and the Kerosene Lamp Foundation will host the second annual Caribbean American Heritage Month Celebration at the City Hall Rotunda on June 10th at 3 p.m. The Most Honorable P. J. Patterson, ON, PC, QC, recently retired Prime Minister of Jamaica will deliver the keynote address: “Caribbean American Global Leadership: Our Time, Our Vision, Our Role” and in tribute will be presented with the Caribbean American Legacy Award.

In 2006 the White House signed legislation championed by Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) designating June as national Caribbean American Heritage month. Lee proclaimed “Their history is interwoven with ours and should be recognized and celebrated.”

Percival Noel James Patterson affectionately known as “PJ” is suitably qualified to be honored given his commitment, work and impact in the Caribbean region. He served as Head of Government of Jamaica for fourteen unbroken years or four consecutive terms, an unprecedented record in Jamaican electoral history, before retiring from active politics in March 2006. He remains the most enduring and successful democratically elected global leader who is of the African Diaspora and specifically emerges from the Caribbean.

He served as chair of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) for four terms and lead the Regional Body toward the enrichment of the Caribbean jurisprudence through the establishment of the Caribbean Court of Justice.
He was instrumental in establishing the mechanisms that resulted in the evolution of the Caribbean Free Trade Area into CARICOM; And in the crafting of the Grande Anse Declaration which established the framework for the CARICOM Single Market and Economy.
He chaired the CARICOM Prime Ministerial Sub-Committee on External Negotiations since its inception and is credited for developing a unified negotiating position of CARICOM countries in the International arena.
He served as Chair of the Group of 15 developing nations (G-15), Group of 77 & China (G77)

Caribbean American Heritage Month celebrations will be held all across the country. The Northern California Celebration will be held at the Rotunda Building at City Hall, 300 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, Oakland, California 94612 on Sunday, June 10, 2007, 3:00 – 6:00 pm. The reception promises to be an intimate evening celebrating local, national and international individuals with special Legacy Awards to Congresswoman Barbara Lee, The Most Honorable PJ Patterson and Dr. Claire Nelson. Local community awards will also be given to Val Serrant and Jackie Artman and tributes will be paid to Shirley Chisholm and other notable leaders. This event is sponsored by CBTV1, Jumbi Productions, Beaumont and Associates and the Jamaica Association of Northern Calfornia.

For more information contact: Shorron Levy @ (510) 382-1400, or Darrin Thurman @ (510) 910-4038,