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Toronto Activist Dudley Laws dead at 76

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Just days after being honoured for his decades of activism, Dudley Laws passed away Thursday. Laws was honoured at an event Sunday hosted by the Jamaican Canadian Association, but he was too ill to attend the event. He reportedly watched it online. He was 76.

Laws left Jamaica in 1955 to further his education in London, England where he attendedKensington College and found employment with Cox Watford Limited as a welder. He began towork in the community by helping new immigrants from Jamaica and other parts of the world to start their lives by aiding them to find jobs and residence. During his time in England, he was active in collaborating with others to combat racism and discrimination against people of Africandescent. He was also committed to maintaining the cultural heritage of Jamaica and other African countries through community events and celebrations.

Dudley migrated to Toronto, Canada in 1965, where he found work as a welder. He sought outand became active with organizations, clubs, and churches where Jamaicans and other people of African descent met. He joined the Jamaican-Canadian Association in 1967, and the UniversalNegro Improvement Association in 1968 where he became a very prominent member leading tohis Presidency in 1972. The UNIA later became the Universal African Improvement Association (UAIA) during the mid-70’s. Dudley’s involvement in the African-Canadian community is well known. He is the founding member of organizations such as: The Black Inmates and Friends Assembly (BIFA) which implemented programs in a variety of prisons. He also formed and co-founded the following organizations: Immican Youth for Skilled Organization, Committee for Due Process, Albert Johnson Committee, Lester Donaldson Committee, Black Youth Community Action Project, the Michael Wade Lawson Committee, and was a founding member of the BADC (Black Action Defense Committee).

His 50 years of community involvement covers a large spectrum of activities, which includes: policing, immigration, education, the Criminal Justice System and other social institutions. On behalf of the various organizations that he represented and still represents, he made manyappearances before Government Commissions such as the Clair Lewis Commission, Steven Lewis Commission, the Commission of Racism in the Criminal Justice System, the HonorableJudge Cole’s review of the Special Investigation Unit, the Ontario Human Rights Commission into Racism in Ontario, the Honorable Judge La Sarge Commission into the establishment of an Independent Civilian Review of Policing, as well as many others.

Dudley has received several community awards, including the Marcus Garvey Memorial Award, Pan African Award, Canadian Black Achievement Award, Spirit Of the Community Award, Bob Marley Memorial Award, The Lion’s Club Memorial Award for Advocacy, The Jamaican-Canadian Community Award, The Dinthill Alumni Association Spirit of the Community Award, The Manning Past Student Association Award, and many more awards.

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