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University of the West Indies Benefit Gala 2012

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$300,000 Raised at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Benefit Gala in Toronto for the UWI Scholarship Fund and the UWI Haitian Initiative

Canadian and Caribbean Industry and Sector Leaders Pave the Way for Future Generations

The University of the West Indies (UWI) Toronto Third Annual Benefit Gala, held Saturday, March 10, 2012, at the Four Seasons Hotel raised $300,000 for the UWI Scholarship Fund and the UWI Haitian Initiative that lends support to rebuild the tertiary education sector in Haiti and assist university students who need to complete their degree programmes. Elizabeth Buchanan-Hind, Executive Director of UWI Institutional Advancement says "The University of the West Indies Toronto Gala 2012 was sold out for the third consecutive year. We are touched by the outpouring of support we continue to receive from the public and private sectors in Canada."

The UWI Benefit Gala in Toronto has occurred annually since 2009 under the patronage of honourary UWI graduate, Chancellor G. Raymond Chang of Ryerson University. The event is a natural extension of the Annual UWI Benefit Gala that has been held for the past 15 years in New York, NY, under the patronage of Honourary UWI graduate, Dr. the Honourable Harry Belafonte. Both events have become staple events for many Caribbean natives, as well as the cities' community and industry leaders.

At the UWI Benefit Gala, award-winning author, Malcolm Gladwell, internationally renowned artist, Artis Lane and Canada's first female black cabinet minister, Zanana Akande received Luminary Awards for being outstanding achievers and for shedding light on issues, which affect the Caribbean. The Gala also honoured six outstanding community and sector leaders with the Vice Chancellor's Award: Dr. Pamela Da Camara, medical pioneer; Dr. Anthony MacFarlane, cultural philanthropist; Mr. Lloyd Seivright, Charity founder; Mr. Howard Shearer, President and CEO of Hitachi Canada Ltd.; Mr. Suresh Sookoo, CEO, Caribbean Banking, RBC, and Mr. Frank Walwyn, Partner at WeirFoulds LLP, who was recently recognized as one of the best lawyers in Canada.

The University Health Network (Toronto General Hospital, Toronto Western Hospital, Princess Margaret Hospital and Toronto Rehabilitation Institute) represented by UHN President and CEO, Dr. Robert S. Bell was also honoured with the Chancellor's Award as an outstanding institution that facilitates post-graduate training for a number of UWI medical students in Canada, and for providing exceptional care to its communities.

The entire evening of March 10th at the Four Seasons Hotel explains why the UWI Benefit Gala is a highly anticipated event on Toronto's social calendar. Five hundred guests were greeted by a parade of the Muhtadi & International African Drummers and SGPD Punjabi Drummers and were later serenaded by the spine-chilling voice of Divine Brown. Masters of ceremonies for the event were award-winning journalist and diversity consultant, Hamlin Grange and award-winning journalist Suhana Meharchand, host of CBC News Now. The moving speeches of award recipients and sponsors had the packed banquet room fall silent time and time again.

Lead Chair, Scotiabank, represented by Sean Albert, Managing Director, Scotiabank Caribbean East summed up the community nature of the event in his speech by saying, "Many of you will say that (your accomplishments) started with a dream and by hard work, you turned that dream into a reality..." He continued, "Then perhaps, there was someone ... who spent just the right amount of time with you, covered some expenses for you, made a phone call on your behalf that allowed you to actualize your ambitions, and here we are tonight." Indeed, many of the people behind the UWI Gala are doing this for so many others.

With such a strong Caribbean community in Toronto and Canada, UWI has initiated a successful Annual Benefit Gala that will continue to strengthen the relationship between Canada and the Caribbean for years to come. Previous honourees include The Honourable Jean Augustine, Donovan Bailey, Michael Lee-Chin, The Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, The Honourable Justice Dr. Irving André, Keith L. Forde, Kamala-Jean Gopie, Dr. Karl Massiah and Dr. John Stewart.

The University of the West Indies (UWI) was established in 1948 as a college of the University of London. It achieved full university status in 1962 and today, is the only pan-Caribbean tertiary level institution offering a wide array of diverse and accredited programs to 40,000 students throughout the region, with campuses in Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and the Eastern Caribbean. UWI is an international university in every respect with links extending beyond the Caribbean to well over 100 universities worldwide through: collaborative research involving postgraduate students and faculty; study abroad and exchange programmes; cross-campus degree programmes; lecture series and conferences.

Internationally, UWI is known for academic and research excellence. Within the region, it stands proudly as an icon of Caribbean integration and culture.

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