Jamaican-Canadians revel in Jamaica 60 celebrations
For some members of the Jamaican-Canadian Association, last Saturday's Grand Gala was their first time being back in the island for two years and Jamaica's 60th Jubilee celebration was the most appropriate welcome home party.
About 100 members of the group, who were decked in their shocking yellow shirts, could barely stay seated as they danced, sang and embraced each other while enjoying the night's activities. David Betty, president of the diasporic assemble, shared that the trip to return home for the diamond jubilee was two years in the making and the momentous occasion could not be missed.
"This is a special occasion; it is a big deal. We were here for Louise Bennett's bust reveal in 2019 and we decided to come back for this. We felt the need to show our appreciation and support for what is happening, to show that the diaspora cares," Betty told the news team.
Betty, who before migrating was employed at the Fair Trading Commission, shared that his earliest Independence memory was participating in the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission speech and drama competitions at age five. However, it was the 25th year of Independence Grand Gala that stood out to him the most.
"I think 25 was a big deal because we were quarter of the way of being a century. To me, it was a big deal at the time, for us to be 25 years, being able to look back at what we had accomplished and it was important. I was old enough to understand and for sure, where we are now at 60, there are some improvements. I would say the infrastructure and the investment by the private sector [stand out]," he said. Betty said that the sporting performances of athletes and Jamaica being the cultural Mecca makes the 60th year worth celebrating.
Betty, shared that the Jamaican-Canadian Association was also celebrating its 60th year of operation and highlighted some of its work, including human rights advocacy and policing in Jamaica.
"I still believe that civil society has to get involved in trying to find a solution to the problem so we are hoping that we can start doing some work. Being a president, that I have lived here and worked here, I think I see from a different vantage point and I'm probably able to make that connection with both the diaspora living in Canada and the Jamaican population," Betty told THE STAR.
Curtis Malcolm had not visited the island for five years and said the group had to come home to celebrate the special day.
"It has been a while since we came to Jamaica and I love the Grand Gala showcase so far. I missed the food, the people, the events and the good weather. It feels good to be back home to feel the spirit of the people. The atmosphere is just nice," Malcolm shared.
As Betty swooned at the performances, he acknowledged that his homeland has issues including crime.
"In terms of the overall dispersion of wealth, we still think that there is still a lot of work to be done in that regard and I know that the health system is another concern," Betty said.