Granville, St James man is among 100 most influential black Canadians

Banker and community activist Ronald Cunningham who hails from Granville, St James, has been named among the 100 most influential black Canadians by Afroglobal Television, a global super channel that caters to people of African heritage.

Cunningham who was described as a social change-maker and compassionate humanitarian, has impacted the lives of thousands of youths over the last 20 years, by "perfecting his Youth Development Programmes".

"These seek to improve youth's lives by meeting their fundamental physical, developmental, and social needs and helping them to build the competencies needed to achieve their full potential and become successful adults," the citation said.

From his Mississauga base in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), Cunningham founded Citizens for the Advancement of Community Development (CACD), a black-led registered charitable organization which he runs as chief executive officer.

Ron Cunningham and his wife Sonia at the Afroglobal Television's Excellence Awards ceremony in Toronto, Canada

Cunningham's community work has won him numerous awards and recognitions, including a prestigious award from Mayor Hazel McCallion for his exemplary work in community development.

He has also received the Peace Medallion from the YMCA of the GTA; the Ron Lenyk Crime Prevention Volunteer of the Year Award; the 2011 Ontario Volunteer Services Award; the 2012 Queen Diamond Jubilee Award for Community Service; the 2014 Ontario Volunteer 10 years Services Award and the 2015 City of Mississauga Civic Award for 10 years of Community involvement.

Other accolades incude the 2017 Harry Jerome Community Service Award; the Ontario Government's Volunteer Service Award and the 2019 Afroglobal Excellence Award for Community Service.

Grenadian Dr Jean Augustine, Canada's first black female Member of Parliament and Minister

In 2006, Cunningham wrote a research paper, "Impacting Peace-building and Development in Jamaica: Addressing Challenges and Opportunities Encountered by the Jamaican Diaspora," through the University of Peace, mandated by the United Nations.

In 2022, he was selected by the Consulate General of Jamaica, under the Banner of "Jamaica 60 – Toronto Game Changers" as one of the 35 most Influential and Impactful Next-generation and Senior Leaders in the Greater Toronto Area.

Among the distinguished line-up of previous recipients of the 18-year-old award are: Jamaica's first female Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller and entrepreneur Michael Lee-Chin; Grenadian Dr Jean Augustine who is Canada's first black female MP and Minister and Nigeria's Nobel Prize Winner Professor Wole Soyinka.

Other recipients have included Kevin Williams, president of General Motors Canada; South African music superstar Yvonne Chaka Chaka; Oscar-winning Hollywood star David Oyelowo; nuclear engineer Dr Sylvester Osamusali; Bank of Montreal Managing Director Stanley Julien; YWCA International President Dr Musimbi Kanyoro and Olympic gold medalist Daniel Igali.

Michael "Pinball" Clemons (left), recipient of the excellence award and Ron Cunningham on the red carpet

Cunningham holds degrees in Economics (BA) and Accounting/Finance (B. Com) from York University and Professional Designations in Banking/Finance (AICB) and Management (CIM).

He attended the Harrison Memorial High School in Montego Bay and the College of Arts Science and Technology (now UTech Jamaica) before migrating to Canada where he has worked in all four traditional pillars of the Canadian financial system – banking, trust, insurance and brokerage in the lucrative financial district in Canada - King/Bay Street.

He has served in the corporate head offices of four of Canada's leading banks – Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce); Bank of Nova Scotia; Bank of Montreal and Royal Bank of Canada, in the Chief Accountant Divisions, Corporate Finance Divisions, Corporate Accounting Division, and Controllers Group; as well as the Banca Commerciale Italiana of Canada.

"The Afroglobal Television Excellence Awards are designed to showcase the achievements of individuals, organizations, businesses, and agencies that make a profound difference in the lives of people of African descent and transform the communities where they live," the organisers said.

It is led by Moses and Patricia Mawa of Silvertrust Media and Planet Africa Group.

Afroglobal's Advisory Board has included Hollywood actress Tonya Williams; Dr Jean Augustine; Dr Julius Garvey, son of Jamaica's National Hero Marcus Mosiah Garvey.

The Afroglobal Television Network presents documentaries, biographies, music, movies, sitcoms, soap operas, talk shows, dramas, sports and athletics, children's programming, reality shows, dance, news, current affairs, and content that reflect the rich and diverse heritage of Africa, the Caribbean, and the Diaspora, the organisers said.

by Desmond Allen Executive editor - special assignment allend@jamaicaobserver.com

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