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Jamaica50 Celebration, March 18 Kick-off Date

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It’s time to Feel the Soul and Sprit of a Nation as Jamaican-Canadians begin their celebrations of 50 years of independence with a Thanksgiving Church Service at the Bethel Pentecostal Church at 2:00pm on Sunday March 18. Celebrations will continue in Ottawa throughout the year.

Jamaica gained its independence from Britain in 1962 to end 307 years as a British colony and today Jamaicans may be found all over the world.

Jamaican migration to Canada was very limited before the 1960s but today, they may be found in almost every Canadian city, the largest numbers being in Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa, and celebrations are being stages in all those cities.

Here in Ottawa a committee has been at work for more than a year planning and staging events, starting with a very successful Prelude Evening of Elegance on july 23 last. Another eight or nine events are on tap before the year ends.

The March 10 service will feature the renowned Heritage Singers from Toronto, a sermon by the Rev Dr Anthony Bailey of Parkdalc United Church, and participation by several Jamaican-Canadian pastors living in Ottawa. All are welcome to this special service.

Four days later, teh celebrations take on a national flavour with Jamaican-Canadians from across Canada converging on the Governmetn Conference Centre in Ottawa under the patronage of Senator the Rev Don Meredith to meet with high officials from teh Jamaican and Canadian Governments as well as diplomats and people from the trade and non-governmental sectors in a National Launch. The Launch will feature a proclamation, performances by Jamaican violinist extraordinaire jessica Yap; motivational speaker Devon Harris, formerly of teh Jamaican Bobsled team; Tony Anthony of Toronto who wowed the preclude event last year with his singing; and a mass choir under the direction of Vanessa London.

The celeberations take on added significance because 2012 also marks 50 years of diplomatic relations between Canada and Jamaica, for Canada was one of the first three countries with which Jamaica opened diplomatic relations in 1962. Canada continues to be a major trading and investment partner, a major source of oversees development assistance adn teh largest source for tourists arrivals in Jamaica. This mutually beneficial relationship over the last five decades has seen major collaboration on several fronts and the two countries continue to support each otehr in actions and atinternational and regional levels.

Jamaica is a small nation but big in its achievements, known for the world’s fastest athletes, Blue Mountain Coffee, Appletion Special and otehr great rums, jerk pork and jerk chicken, ackee and saltfish, Reggae legends Jimmy Cliff adn Bob Marley among others, novelists and poets including Louise Bennett-Coverley, newly emerging neutraceuticals from our scientists and the long-established Canasol eye-drops for the treatment of glucoma.

The unique island provides a range of attractions and cultural diversity. It was described by Christopher Columbus as “the fairest island that eyes have beheld; mountains and land seem to touch teh sky… all full of valleys and fields and plains.” Its culture has been shaped by its many inhabitants, the Tainos-the first inhabitants, the Europeans who sought to colonize; Africans brought across teh Atlantic to work as slaves on the sugar-cane plantations; migrants from India and China who came as indentured workers; Jewish settlers; and Arab traders from Palestine. The result – a racially mixed Jamaican people, hence the national motto “Out of Many, One People.”

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Written by Staff Writer