Toronto’s Palais Royale was the site of quite a celebration on the final day of September as members of the travel industry and the Jamaica diaspora gathered to witness the presentation of the inaugural Edith Baxter Memorial Award.
The new biennial award program was established earlier this year in memory of long-time Canadian publishing icon Edith Baxter and was founded in a partnership between the Jamaica Tourist Board and the Baxter family to recognize outstanding individuals who contribute to the positive advancement of Jamaica’s tourist industry and/or Jamaican culture within Canada.
Some 50 invitees gathered at the in-person event, that featured a host of dignitaries, including the Hon. Edmund Bartlett, Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism; Her Excellency Sharon J. Miller, High Commissioner of Jamaica; Lincoln Downer, Consul General of Jamaica; John Lynch, Chairman, JTB; Director of Tourism, Donovan White; and Angella Bennett, JTB Regional Director for Canada.
“What a Gwaan”
Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett presented the 2021 Edith Baxter Memorial Award to first-place winner Donnovan Simon, President of the Jamaican Canadian Association Alberta (JCAA).
Simon was recognized for his strong leadership skills in promoting Jamaica’s tourism sector and spotlighting Jamaican culture in Calgary and beyond.
Through his work with the JCAA, Simon has exposed Albertans to the distinct culture, music and cuisine of the island. At the onset of the pandemic, Simon launched a weekly Facebook live event titled “What a Gwaan” where he has featured Jamaican panelists who expose viewers to Jamaican culture and encourage travel to the island.
Along with the impressive Edith Baxter Memorial Award trophy, Simon will also receive an all-inclusive trip for two to Jamaica courtesy of award partners Sandals Resorts and Air Canada Vacations.
A unique understanding
In his keynote address, Minister Bartlett observed: “While she may have travelled to many places around the world throughout her impressive career, there is no doubt that Edith Baxter held a special place in her heart for Jamaica.”
And the Minister continued: “Under her leadership, Baxter Media played an integral role in spotlighting Destination Jamaica in the Canadian market.”
The JTB’s Chairman, John Lynch told the audience that: “Edith had a unique understanding of Jamaica and our people. When she passed, we envisioned a commemorative award that would celebrate like-minded individuals who shared Edith’s passion for bringing the unique, vibrant spirit of Jamaica to Canadians. I am delighted to see that vision come to life today as we celebrate the inaugural Edith Baxter Memorial Award.”
Worthy nominees one and all
Four additional award nominees received trophies of recognition at the luncheon:
- Mary Long Bishop, a long-time community activist and philanthropist
- Natasha Borota, president and CEO of It Factor Ltd. and member of the Helping Hands Jamaica Foundation
- Fiona Bowen, membership manager with Association of Canadian Travel Agencies
- Caribbean product director, Wayne Noseworthy.