Back to Top
Close Menu
Home » News-Events » News
News and Events Centre

The UWI Toronto Benefit Gala Hosts 8th Annual Event for Caribbean Scholarships

For Release Upon Receipt - Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Affordable tertiary level education at The University of the West Indies (The UWI) is supported by several generous benefactors across the region and the world. One such group is The UWI Toronto Benefit Gala Committee which will host its annual event on Saturday, April 1, 2017 at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Toronto, Canada.

Now in its 8th year, under the theme “Light, Learning and Liberty”, The UWI Toronto Benefit Gala has successfully raised over CAD 1 million dollars since inception. These funds have created an estimated 260 scholarships to support students across the Caribbean who need assistance in reaching their higher education goals. Over 70 of these students have graduated–most with first class honours. The Patron of this year’s Gala is The G. Raymond Chang Family and lead sponsor of the event is Scotiabank for the eighth consecutive year. It will be hosted by CBC News Anchor Dwight Drummond and leaders of Canadian and Caribbean heritage are to be honored as part of the evening’s highlights. Although the benefit gala is already sold out, persons wishing to make a donation in lieu of attending may visit for details.

Desmond Mpilo Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, South Africa, will receive the Gala’s Luminary Award. This award recognises persons of Caribbean heritage who are internationally outstanding achievers in their respective fields or persons who have brought prominence to the Caribbean or to issues which affect the region.

Archbishop Tutu has a strong passion for social justice, starting with his unflinching activism against Apartheid since the early 1970s, as the first Black Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa and as Chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa. He has also used his high-profile position to campaign globally for poverty, HIV/AIDS, racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and land rights. This is the second time that The UWI is recognising the Archbishop for his accomplishments as he received an honorary degree from the university in 1986. Other prestigious acknowledgements he has received include the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984, the Gandhi Peace Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He will be represented at The UWI Toronto Gala by his daughter, Reverend Canon Mpho Tutu van Furth.

Canadian Senator Murray Sinclair will receive the G. Raymond Chang Award. The G. Raymond Chang award was established to honour individuals who exemplify the leadership and ideals of G. Raymond Chang (1948-2015). Mr. Chang was an outstanding business leader and philanthropist who embodied great humility and commitment to his fellow persons. Chang, who passed away in July 2014, was The Gala’s patron for five years. Senator Sinclair served as the Chief Commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), documenting the history and legacy of Canada’s residential school system that affected the lives of more than 6000 indigenous women and men of First Nations, Inuit and Métis background. Sinclair also served in the justice system in Manitoba for over 25 years and was the first Aboriginal Judge appointed in Manitoba and Canada’s second. He served as an adjunct professor of law at the University of Manitoba. Over the course of his career, he has been recognised for his work in his profession and his community as the recipient of numerous awards, including honorary doctorates from eight Canadian universities.

In addition to the Luminary and the G. Raymond Chang awards, one Caribbean organisation will receive The UWI Chancellor’s Award which is given to organisations which have contributed significantly to the Caribbean or outstanding organisations owned by persons of Caribbean heritage. Five Canadian and Caribbean leaders will also be recognised with the Vice-Chancellor’s Award which is given to individuals of Caribbean heritage who have made significant contributions within their organisations and communities.

This year the Chancellor’s Award will be presented to GraceKennedy. Established in 1922 by Dr. John Grace and Mr. Fred William Kennedy, in Kingston, Jamaica, it is one of the Caribbean’s largest groups of companies that began as a general mercantile, shipping and insurance business. It operates in the food and financial services industries, with operations in Jamaica, other Caribbean countries, and Belize, the US, UK, Canada and Africa. GraceKennedy has also contributed to Jamaica’s development over the years through its two Foundations, generously providing financial assistance to a host of worthy causes. They are the Grace & Staff Community Development Foundation (Grace & Staff) and the GraceKennedy Foundation.

The Vice-Chancellor’s Award will be presented to five community leaders as follows:

Dr. Renn Holness, Consultant Neurosurgeon

Dr. Holness is an alumnus of The UWI Mona campus and recipient of an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science (DSc). He served as Professor and Head of the Department of Neurosurgery, Dalhousie University and Director of The UWI Clinical Training Programme in Nassau, Bahamas as well as President of the Canadian Neurological Society and Chairman of the Examining Board in Neurosurgery, Royal College of Physicians of Canada. He is a Professor and Examiner in Neurosurgery at The UWI Neurosurgery Programme and teaches at Cornwall Regional Hospital in Montego Bay, Jamaica.

Ms. Kay McConney, Businesswoman and Retired Diplomat

Ms. McConney is the youngest Consul-General of Barbados in Canada. She also served as a high-level diplomat at the United Nations (UN) in Geneva, Switzerland and as a trade negotiator at the World Trade Organization (WTO). In 2009, she founded The Executive Minds which specialises in strengthening institutional and individual capacities for 21st century environments, through training, coaching and consulting.

Mr. Wayne Purboo, Entrepreneur and Philanthropist

Mr. Purboo is the President, CEO and Co-founder of Quickplay, developing award-winning technologies and forging critical partnerships with market leading content providers, video service providers, handset manufacturers and mobile service operators. He is an also active member of several boards in Toronto, Canada.

Dr. Vivian Rambihar, Cardiologist and Community Activist

Dr. Rambihar is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Toronto and a globally renowned cardiologist, involved in teaching, research and practice in Toronto for 35 years. Since 1990, he has lectured on ethnicity and health, and chaos/complexity and health across the West Indies. He is a pioneer in chaos and complexity science and is the first to apply these ideas to medicine, proposing their use in solving complex world problems, including peace, health, development, poverty reduction and climate change.

The Honourable Mr. Justice Michael H. Tulloch, Judge, Ontario Court of Appeal

The Honourable Mr. Justice Michael H. Tulloch has been a judge on the Court of Appeals for Ontario since 2012 following nine years on the Superior Court of Justice. He was an Assistant Crown Attorney in both Peel and Toronto. In 1995, he entered private practice, specialising in criminal law and continued in this practice until his appointment to the Bench in 2003. During his private practice, Justice Tulloch was also appointed a special prosecuting agent with the Federal Department of Justice, participating in a number of commissions. He has been actively involved in post-secondary education as well as numerous community organisations. In 2011, he was appointed a Distinguished Research Fellow for the Centre of Law and Policy at Ryerson University. He is the recipient of two Honorary Doctorate Degrees: a Doctor of Laws from the University of Guelph and a Doctor of Theology from Tyndale University and Seminary.

The UWI Toronto Benefit Gala brings together Canada’s business and academic communities to celebrate the tireless work of the honourees, making it a much-anticipated event on Toronto’s social calendar. Former honourees include: Dr. Shirley J. Thompson, Food For The Poor, Mr. Stephen Ames, Mr. Wesley Hall, Dr. Paul Steinbok, The Honourable Dr. Hedy Fry, P.C., M.P., Dr. the Honourable Jimmy Cliff, OM, Ms Tessanne Chin, Mr. Roger Mooking and Mr. David Taylor, retired boxer and undisputed heavyweight champion Mr Lennox Lewis, The Hospital for Sick Children, Ms Mary Anne Chambers, Dr. Upton Allen, Dr. Budhendranauth Doobay, The University of Toronto, award winning author Mr Malcolm Gladwell, The University Health Network, Ms. Zanana Akande, The Honourable Harry Belafonte; The Right Hon. Michaëlle Jean, former Deputy Chief of Toronto police Mr. Keith L. Forde; Hon. Michael Lee-Chin, OJ; the Hon. Jean Augustine; the Hon. Justice Dr. Irving André and Dr. Karl Massiah, Senator Vivienne Poy and Mr. Charles Coffey.


Cave Hill Campus Chill Magazine
Browse our collection of publications, covering life at all four of our UWI campuses - Cave Hill, St. Augustine, Mona and Open.

Cave Hill

Media Resources


Reach Us

Have more questions?

Talk to our Public Information Office
The Leslie Robinson Building


Tel: (246) 417-4000
Fax: (246) 417-4000


Office Hours:
Monday to Friday
8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m