Interview with Jamaican Consul, Wilma King Bennett
By Honore Gbedze The Afro News, Vancouver, BC : Wilma King Bennett, Honorary Consul, Jamaican Consulate in Vancouver, BC was asked to tell us a little about the history of Jamaica’s independence and how it affected her and her family.
On May 13, 2011, she was formally appointed as Honorary Consul of the Government of Jamaica in Canada with a seat in Vancouver and jurisdiction for the entire territory of Vancouver, by the Honorable Dr. Kenneth Baugh, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Jamaica. King Bennett says ‘it is a role that I will be taking seriously as a member of the Canadian mosaic and especially as a member of the Jamaican Diaspora living in Vancouver.
King Bennett was born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica lived in a Christian home where Christian values were taught and important to the family. She has three sisters and one brother and grew up knowing what she wanted and what was right. Her family struggled through the developing economic climate in Jamaica, but they made it through the challenge.
Wilma was a student during the non-independence regime. She attended Excelsior High School and studied at the University of the West Indies graduating with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Management studies. Wilma said that there was a lot of hardship and pressures of the economy that were strong at that time. Food supply was short and privileges were not readily available during the 70’s while the embargo was going on. These struggles however, made them stronger people and made them accept that what they had and needed to have. The reform at the time was to make Jamaica reliant and self sufficient.
Jamaican’s were inspired after the Independence in that they were accepted and could move to Canada. They did not take things for granted and they accepted that they could also practice multiculturalism in their own country by promoting tourism which would then also let Jamaica become a developing country. They put their talents to work; singers, songwriters, sports stars. They could also adopt all the social aspects that North America has and these instilled qualities helped them to emerge as leaders in the field of the individual’s talent.
Jamaica contributes to the North American economy with their musical talents, tourism, jerk recipes, rum and coffee and now considers themselves as an Emerging Market rather than a 3rd world country.
Wilma added that ‘we are proud to have reached this milestone with having reached 50 years of independence. We are eager as people and a country to continue our good work and let the rest of the world know that it’s great to be a part of the global world and economies’.
People that have worked hard are not afraid to share what they know. They are remembered as an instrument and advocate for a diverse multicultural society. We all must be a part of the Vancouver community by sharing our talents, working hard and being a part of the economic growth and promotion of Tourism in Canada and Jamaica.
Our 50 Year Independence is a yearlong celebration that started with a Christian based event as this is the foundation of Jamaica, then followed by a literacy event that will include, performance, music, dance recitals and then a Gala Reception to take place on Aug 11 in Vancouver.
King Bennett said that Prime Minister, Michael Manley was her inspiration. She stated that his policies and ideologies were good, he had good vision and went on to say that ‘we had to sacrifice a lot but we also were able to build a lot’.
Her advice to the youth of today is to follow the examples and advise of their forefathers and forerunners, to make wise decisions, and when they celebrate at the 100 years milestone the results of growth should be doubled from the 50th year celebration. She closed the interview with saying ‘The sky is the limit’!