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On Saturday, November 18, a wide cross-section of the community was on hand at Buffett Il Gabiano in LaSalle as the Antigua & Barbuda Association of Montreal celebrated its annual Independence Banquet and Dance.
This year the theme of the celebration was ‘UNITE TO REBUILD’, and Mrs. Janice Layne, Antigua and Barbuda’s consul general to Canada, was on hand to update the diaspora on developments in the home country, especially following the complete devastation of Barbuda by Hurricane Irma this past summer.
Mrs. Layne highlighted the rebuilding process currently in place and the many expressions of solidarity, as Antiguans and Barbudans join hands to get the country back on its feet.
She was accompanied by a contingent of other Toronto-based Antiguans that included her son Mikel Campbell, Mr. Dale Mercury, Aide de Campe of Governor General Sir Rodney Williams; Ms. Matara Richards, of the office of Consul General; Mrs. Patsy Henry, president of the Antigua & Barbuda Association of Toronto and her husband Vincent Henry, and Eric Delfish, past president.
Another highlight of the evening was the presentation of the community service award to Ms Veron Henry for her many years of selfless devotion to the Association and to churches around Montreal. Ms. Henry, originally from Buckley in Antigua, came to Canada in 1976 and has been a longstanding member of the Association.
Two well-deserving students, Nasha Cassel and Shadante Davis-Kerr, were presented with the Ada Moore bursaries.
Cassell, outstanding in her commitment to people with special needs and a committed volunteer, took a long and winding road before finally embarking on her trails towards her career in Special Care Counseling.
Davis-Kerr is a student at Vanier College on a path to completing the Photography and Graphic Design program; he’s a lifelong artiste who has dabbled in art and music.
The evening was colored by spectacular performances by saxophonist Julian Mc Intosh and soloist, Priscilla Findlay, both of whom had guests on their feet and calling for more. Trumpeter Erickson Skerritt, the Antiguan-born musician, kicked off the evening with a moving rendition of Antigua The Beautiful.
Usually one of the more active of community groups, this year the Association was called upon to do more after Barbuda was devastated by a category 5 hurricane on September 5. Immediately after the disaster they launched a relief and recovery project in Montreal, which saw them sending three 20-foot containers of supplies and thousands of dollars back home.
The officers and members of the Association extend a “big thank you” to all who assisted, and although they have suspended the collection of supplies, they remain in fundraising mode.