Leonard Wharwood: activist, community organizer and diplomat

Egbert Gaye

When it comes to community building and organizing, Leonard Wharwood was a giant of a man. Dependable, hard working and smart, he was a go-to guy for the many organizations and groups with which he was associated for the past 30 years or so.
His passing on Thursday, August 23 has left a void in our community and a patch of sadness in the hearts of those whose paths he crossed during his endless hours of work developing his business and assisting others. He was only 60-years-old when he died following a bout with cancer.
Many have come to know Wharwood as the Honorary Consul for Grenada in Quebec, a position he held since 2009, but he has been in the service of the people of Grenada, Carriacou and Petit Martinique for most of his life.
It was in 2004, following the devastation of Hurricane Ivan on his homeland, that he took to the forefront of the relief efforts and collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in supplies and money to assist those who were stricken by the disaster.
His efforts to bring aid and comfort to the people of Grenada continued up until the time of his death as he continued to send regular shipments of toys, school supplies, medical equipment and other necessities to families and institutions on the Caribbean island.
Those efforts were recognized at many levels, including by the government of Grenada, who entrusted him with the high-profile position as its top diplomat in Quebec.
In Montreal since 1983, Wharwood forged a path of excellence in his personal and professional journey through life.
Employed at McGill University since 1990, he moved easily through the ranks by upgrading his skills and capacity in the field of Computer and Systems Software technology. He emerged in a management position as a Network and Voice Technology consultant at the university.
But it was in the community that Wharwood’s star shone brightest.
His business Karib Shipping (in partnership with Michael Gittens) was a source of service and assistance to his many clients as it was an entrepreneurial undertaking.
And his involvement in community work was endless.
Over the years, he served as a member and officer in a long line of organizations, including the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), Playmas Montreal Cultural Association, the Cornucopia Association of Canada, the Grenada Nationals Association of Montreal, Inc. and the newly formed Spice Island Cultural Day Association of Quebec.
It was through his efforts and bidding that the Spice Island Cultural Day, staged on July 21 at Vinet Park in Little Burgundy, became a reality and the success it was.
More than his strivings and his contributions, Wharwood stood out because of the relationships he built with those with whom he came in contact.
He was a gentle man, quick to laugh and fun to be around. Highly knowledgeable, he remained a true Pan Africanist to the end and never shied away from the call of activism. He carried his “Caribbeanness” like a badge of honor and walked in the footsteps of other great regional stalwarts such as Alfie Roberts, Tim Hector and Franklyn Harvey.
Leonard Wharwood leaves to mourn his wife Ancil, daughters: Jamie, Zipporah, Nzingha and Summer; his mother Ena Wharwood, his siblings: Byron “Doggies”, Ian, Irvin, Kirk, Lance, Lennox, Leonie, Leslie, Linton, Michael “Natty”, Sonia and Trevor, and a multitude of relatives and friends.
Family and friends are invited to celebrate his life on Friday, August 31st at the Centre Funeraire de Cote des Neiges, Dignité (4525 ch.de la Côte-des-Neiges Montreal, QC H3V1E7). The viewing will take place from 10 am to 1pm and the funeral service from 2 pm – 4 pm.
A community celebration will be held at St. Kevin’s Church Hall, Cote des Neiges Rd. on Saturday, September 1, at 6 PM.