Thirteen was certainly a lucky number for 75 students of The University of The West Indies who will benefit from scholarships and bursaries supported by funds raised at The UWI Toronto Benefit Awards 2022 staged Saturday, June 25 at The Ritz-Carlton, Toronto. Indeed, the gala's co-patron Donette Chin-Loy Chang, in lauding supporters of this 13-year-old initiative, shared, "In the unforgettable last two years your support did not wane. In fact, you heard the call louder and clearer and stepped up your support. For this, a million times, thank you. And as we reinvigorate the help for students, we have come to you once again." Indeed, Chin-Loy Chang, wife of the late G Raymond Chang, as well as Andrew and Brigette Chang, have demonstrated unwavering resolve to the cause initiated by the proud husband and father of the soil who understood the power and role of education as a way out of poverty.
Such sentiments are not lost on honorary patron Dr Wesley J Hall who has himself risen from the bowels of poverty. "We are not leaving anyone behind. In these times we must pay particular attention to the underserved among us", he challenged prior to adding "Recently, I had the great pleasure of meeting an impressive group of UWI Toronto Awards scholarship recipients at The University of the West Indies whose lives have been ravaged by the COVID-19 virus and harsh circumstances in which they were born. Yet they are more determined than ever and continually expressed their appreciation for your support, recognising that the trajectory of their lives and realisations of their dreams have only been made possible by your generosity".
For Anya Schnoor, executive vice president, Caribbean, Central America & Uruguay, International Banking, there's no turning back. "Scotiabank, the leading bank in the Americas has served the rich and vibrant Caribbean region for the past 133 years and has supported The University of the West Indies Toronto Benefit Gala for the past 13 years as its lead sponsor... throughout this time, we have collectively raised over 2.3 million CAD and over 600 scholarships have been awarded to our inspiring students."
Giving back is at the core of the event but the gala also affords the opportunity to applaud those who have by dint of dogged determination made the region proud. The evening's outstanding honorees of Caribbean and Canadian heritage, notably, Olympian Andre De Grasse; renowned artist and sculptor Basil Watson; Chancellor, Toronto Metropolitan University and Corporate Director Janice Fukakusa; health agency PAHO; professional fashion photographer Walter Chin; Dr Camille Wardrop Alleyne, rocket engineer; and Dr Shakuntala Haraksingh Thilsted, global lead for nutrition and public health at WorldFish.