After two years of virtual events, the 13th Annual University of the West Indies Toronto Benefit Awards is reported to have been a sold-out in-person affair at The Ritz-Carlton.

The event which serves as a fund raiser to provide scholarships for students was held on Saturday, June 25, 2022, and organisers described it as a huge success, that showcased the theme—One Caribbean...Global Impact.

The event featured three of the many ethnicities that make up the Caribbean—Africans, Chinese and Indians and recognised the Indigenous peoples with a land acknowledgment from the Caribbean by social historian Professor Verene Shepherd.

Scholarship recipient Jamaican born Tajay Henry is said to have blown the audience away with his compelling story of loss, hope, grit, sheer determination and joy.

Elizabeth Buchanan-Hind, executive director of the University’s Institutional Advancement Division told the gathering that Caribbean countries live in a constant state of vulnerability affected by climate change, health crises, and other economic, environmental, and social issues.

She said: “The university is to be credited for its continued focus on providing first-class education.”

Buchanan-Hind said “Given the enormous challenges encountered as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the welfare of students remains the primary concern of the institution.”

She said the UWI Toronto Benefit Awards is a great way to come together to raise much needed funds that provide scholarships that empower students with an education that shapes future generations of the island nations.

Supporting the UWI goes a long way in helping students across the Caribbean continue to dream big dreams in the face of a global pandemic.

In a release organisers dubbed it a night of Caribbean Excellence which was said to be captivating from start to finish. Guests dined on delicious food with a Caribbean twist, curated by the Ritz chefs, listened to inspiring speeches, tried to win stellar auction prizes, and were kept entertained with vibrant performances from the Lat Yip Dragon Lion Dance, Ballet Creole, and Geetika Dance Company.

Although not all honorees could attend, their global impact and gratitude was heard through touching and inspiring video messages, while friends or family members accepted the awards on their behalf.

Among the guests were Chancellor Dr Janice Fukakusa, CM—business leader and philanthropist, Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University), Dr Carissa Etienne— director, Pan American Health Organisation — Specialised International Health Agency, Mary Ng—Canada’s Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business, and Economic Development, Ahmed Hussen—Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion, Dr Wesley J Hall, 2022 event honorary patron, Anya Schnoor—executive vice-president, Caribbean, Central America & Uruguay for International Banking, Scotiabank—Lead Sponsor, Dr Herbert Ho Ping Kong, Event Chair, Dr Mary Anne Chambers, Chair of Grace Kennedy Ontario, Chancellor University of Guelph, and Past honourees—Dr Gervan Fearon, Dr Upton Allen, Frank Walwyn, Justice Michael Tulloch.