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The seventh annual Toronto Benefit Gala for the University of the West Indies (UWI), held recently at the Ritz-Carlton in Toronto, Canada, was a rousing success.

More than 400 guests attended and it concluded with a post-gala Scotiabank VIP Jazz Lounge reception. The gala was hosted by patrons Donette Chin-Loy Chang, Brigette Chang-Addorisio and Andrew Chang.

Benefiting the university's scholarship fund, the sold-out gala was hosted by CBC-TV news anchor Dwight Drummond, and opened with inspiring words from Chin-Loy Chang; Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, vice-chancellor of UWI; Dr Sheldon Levy, deputy minister of training, colleges and universities; Bruce Bowen, senior vice-president, Caribbean region, international banking, Scotiabank; and UWI scholarship recipient Sathara Hendricks.

Hendricks, who is pursuing a bachelor's degree in the Faculty of Humanities and Education at the university's Mona campus, gave a powerful and emotional address, expressing gratitude for the scholarship and the impact it has had on the lives of students.

Guests bid on an exciting selection of items in the silent and live auctions, dined on a scrumptious dinner, and were entertained by Trinidadian calypsonian and former gala honouree David Rudder.


Honourees celebrated at this year's gala included Luminary Award recipient, renowned English composer Dr Shirley J. Thompson; Chancellor's Award recipient Food For The Poor, represented by President and CEO Robin Mahfood; Vice-Chancellor's Award recipients Stephen Ames, professional golfer and four-time PGA winner; Wesley Hall, founder of Kingsdale Shareholder Services; and Dr Paul Steinbok, head of the division of neurosurgery and chairman of the Paediatric Neurosurgery Fellowship programme at BC Children's Hospital.

The G. Raymond Chang Award, in honour of the late patron, was presented to Dr Vivienne Poy, former Canadian senator, author, entrepreneur, historian, fashion designer and community volunteer.

The UWI Toronto Benefit Gala honours Canadian-Caribbean individuals and organisations, as well as global citizens whose body of work has impacted the Caribbean and is the largest fundraiser for the university in Canada. Since the inception, more than 250 scholarships have been awarded to outstanding academic students in dire financial need across the region.

The cocktail reception was attended by leaders in arts, finance, academia, law, and the diplomatic circle, including Steve Orsini, cabinet secretary, Government of Ontario; Janice Miller, Jamaica's high commissioner to Canada; Omar Khan, chief of staff, Ministry of Health; Eudine Bariteau, pro vice-chancellor, UWI Cave Hill, Barbados; Wendy Cukier, president designate, Brock University; Gervan Fearon, president, Brandon University; Justice Michael Tulloch, Superior Court of Ontario; John Honderich, chair, Torstar Corp; and Kiva Clarke, acting consul general, Trinidad and Tobago, among others.

“My argument was why don’t we go back to the original wording. I’m not changing anything. I’m just saying go back to the original wording and it will include everybody because I really think that the country was just not built by men, it’s built by men and women.” She said the most traditional men were in favour of the wording remaining but young women wanted it changed.

Poy served as Chancellor of the University of Toronto from 2003 to 2006 and is active in many community and cultural organizations. The other UWI awardees are: Shirley Thompson (Luminary); Food For The Poor Inc. (Chancellor’s) and Stephen Ames; Wesley Hall; Machel Montano; and Dr. Paul Steinbok (Vice Chancellor’s).

A successful UWI Toronto Gala    |  Published:Sunday | May 1, 2016