Headlines      Issue Released October 6, 2004


Kissoon scholarship for UG

By Camille Ross

Giving back to the Canadian community was the overarching theme at the University of Guyana’s (UG) 12th annual reunion dinner and dance, last Saturday.

And in keeping with the theme of the evening, keynote speaker Mr. Dhaman Kissoon announced a new scholarship his family will offer at UG in the name of his mother Latchmin Kissoon. Mr Kissoon estimates a total of $10,000 will be offered in scholarships over the next decade.

Saturday's event was put on by The UG Guild of Graduates, Ontario.

In his address to the over 175 UG alumni and guests, the well known Toronto Barrister & Solicitor urged his audience to be mindful of the benefits of being a Canadian.

"This is a great country, we came here with hopes and aspirations and each of us has done well […] the opportunities that this country has afforded us should not go wasted."

Kissoon added that members of the alumni have a unique obligation to show young people the right way.

Kissoon, who teaches Law at Queens University in addition to running his law practice, did not attend UG. In fact, his application was turned down. He nevertheless felt "quite gratified" to have been asked to speak at the dinner. He has been a supporter of the alumni group ever since its establishment in 1993.

The Guild was formed when it was learnt that UG needed financial assistance. Some past graduates then got together for the purpose of giving back to the University.

Harry Hergash, long standing president of the Guild said they wanted to raise money for the UG endowment fund, "so we held a dinner that was intended to be a one time thing." Due to the success of the event, the guild members continued to hold the dinner year after year.

Hergash said it has been hard seeing older members of the Guild pass away, and added, "I encourage younger graduates to join us"

The evening's MC, Mr. Edwin Yhap, one of UG’s first graduates, kept the audience entertained with his sharp wit.

"It is regarded as a pleasure and an honor to give back to UG," he said.




Dedication Personified: Jay Brijpaul, President of The Caribbean Children Foundation (TCCF) and the main architect behind the establishment of this charity, along with Vidyia Persaud, TCCF Vice President were going at full throttle as usual at the 4th Anniversary Dinner of TCCF held on September 25 at the Taj Convention Centre in Mississauga.

The dinner was one of several fundraising activities of TCCF which has so far brought 19 kids from the Caribbean to Toronto where they were successfully treated for ailments not treatable in their home countries. Another four are presently being processed for medical help.

The indefatigable Jay and Vidyia (seen in picture at right after the busy evening) simply go beyond the call of duty to ensure that funds are in place to meet the heavy medical bills for the young charges undertaken by TCCF.

The two officials would like to thank the many sponsors who contributed to the financial success of the event, as well as all volunteers and donors.




'Guyana 1838' arrives in Toronto

Toronto — "The story of our Indian people thrown into a system they did not come looking for and were caught by complete surprise when the British planters enslaved those that made the early voyages from India to British colonies in the West Indies."

This, in the words of Rohit Jagessar, writer, producer and director, is the theme of the long-in-making much-awaited film on the indenture experience. The film - 'Guyana 1838' - shot on the soil of Guyana itself, makes its debut in Toronto at the Albion Cinemas, 1530 Albion Road on October 15, 2004.

'Guyana 1838' started in earnest seven years ago when Rohit began writing the screenplay for the film, telling the story of the struggles of the Indian people in the land of his birth once known as British Guiana. But that story in fact took its genesis decades before in Rohit's formative years while listening to narratives from his grandmother about how the 'mighty British Empire' and its plantation owners brought suffering upon her people in their lust for the profits of sugar.

Rohit said over the last seven years he put together around 50,000 pages of research materials, illustrations and map routes of the ships bringing indentured immigrants to the Caribbean.

He said he noticed a lot of published materials were inconsistent with history. Therefore, to help him validate the facts about indentureship, Rohit visited historical sites such as the Bay of Bengal from where the first ships departed India for the British West Indies in 1838. He also visited Liverpool, where the slave traders were based and various parts of Uttar Pradesh and Calcutta from where Indians were recruited for the voyages.

"These visits prompted the imagination and were helpful to me while writing the screenplay for the film," said Rohit.

The film features Indian actor Kumar Gaurav (of Love Story fame) who plays the role of Laxman, a "coolie" brought from Calcutta to British Guiana. Aarti Bhatija, another Indian national acting in her first role, plays the part of Urmila, a young innocent girl from Calcutta trapped in the system of indentureship.

As to his selection of the cast, Rohit said he looked for depth of the actors as "my film is a period piece dealing with the struggles and ultimate triumph of the Indians on foreign soil."

Rohit who has been in the entertainment industry for the past 25 years feels his film has done justice to the indentureship experience and that the audience will feel the intensity and suspense of the story and journey through the 19th century along with the characters up on the screen.


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