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Ghanaians in Vancouver celebrate 51st Independence anniversary

26 March 2008 at 07:35 | 1252 views

By Kweku Gaisie,Vancouver, Canada.

The Ghana-Canada Association of British Columbia celebrated Ghana’s 51st independence anniversary with a big bash on Saturday, March 15, 2008 at the Eastburn Community Centre in Burnaby. The event was attended by people from different nationalities and it was quite colourful.

The theme for this year’s celebration was “50 +1 - Time For Our Youth”, as the organizers aimed to project the welfare of the youth and bring them to the forefront of the association’s activities in the current year.

Prominent among the invited guests were the Hon. Dave Hayer, the Hon. Richard Lee, the Hon. John Nuraney and the Hon. Harry Bloy, all members of the British Columbia Legislative Assembly, as well as Mrs. Bonnie Sutherland, president of Afretech Aid Society and Dr. Elaine Decker, Associate Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, Kwantlen University College. She was the Keynote Speaker.

Also in attendance were Professor Charles Quist-Adade’s Sociology students Stephanie Cummings, Mary-Anne Tanner, Vanessa Munn, Alicia McAteer, Matthew Ekman, Tamas Belle, Amy Redmond, Marketa Rumlena and Caitlin Gray. They were very instrumental in helping put the function together and by creating a gift basket that was raffled to raise funds for a scholarship fund the GCABC is trying to set up to raise funds for Ghanaian-Canadian youth.

In his welcome address Dr. Charles Quist-Adade, the President of the GCABC and a Sociology Professor at Kwantlen University College spoke about the new chapter that had been opened in the history of the association with the election of new officers and the challenges and opportunities that come with it.

He reminded the community that meeting these challenges required the collective commitment and resolve of all to work harder to make the GCABC more viable and responsive to the needs of its members.

He told the membership that the GCABC is a collective venture and that "we sink or sail together." To this end, he said, what the association becomes will be a reflection of "our collective hard work and dedication."

He encouraged every Ghanaian to come on board so that "we can all join hands in moving the association forward." Quist-Adade further spoke about the need to move beyond “the partying and merry-making syndrome” and begin to build a solid foundation of economic sustainability that will allow the association to provide support services for its members, especially the youth and seniors.

He pointed out that that there was nothing wrong with partying but that merry-making should incorporate fundraising and tangible projects whenever possible.

The GCABC president spoke of new initiatives that the new executive have outlined with a view to making the association more forward-looking.

Prominent among these initiatives is a youth scholarship fund that he hoped will be invested in children’s education, because he surmised that the best investment is in education.

Also addressed by Dr. Quist-Adade is the need to be able to issue tax receipts to donors so that more people can donate generously to the association’s coffers. In this connection,a constitutional review committee has been mandated with the task of updating the association’s constitution in order to meet the requirements for such status.

In her keynote speech, Dr. Elaine Decker, in keeping with the theme for the year, spoke about the bond between Kwantlen University College and the GCABC and the joint efforts between the two by highlighting the role of the two as educators and community leaders and their commitment to both the past and the present.

Dr. Decker spoke about teachers first meeting their students and coming to know their histories, traditions and gifts. She spoke of the learning opportunities created for the students that will move them from their current place of knowing to that new and different place. She said Ghanaians are agents of change on two continents - Africa and North America.

Dr. Decker reminded the audience that the new place doesn’t erase the previous location from the learner’s memory but is rather built on the foundation of their histories, even though it is a different place.

She added that this new place uses their traditions but in new ways and offers them a chance to apply their gifts in the creation of new ideas which are then used to start a new journey.

Learning, Dr. Decker said, is not a spectator sport as the coming together of any two communities require each member to develop and practice communication skills. She sums up this idea by quoting Nicholas Burbules and Suzanne Rice who wrote about “the self-imposition of restraint in order that others may have a turn to speak”. Continuing, Dr. Decker said learning and changing require imagination, giving us the capacity to see beyond what is, to what might be.

She spoke of courage as a necessary tool to underwrite that imagination and to sustain the effort to convert the imaginary to the real. She said learners and leaders either believe they can or cannot and either way is right. This, she added, speaks to the immense power of hope which is in some ways a combination of imagination and courage.

Dr. Decker used the story of Milo, the hero of Norton Juster’s book, “The Phantom Tollbooth”, where Milo, like many adolescents, is bored with his life and is sent by the king to go into the mountains of ignorance to rescue the princesses of rhyme and reason who have been imprisoned there.

As Milo was departing, Dr. Decker said, the king shouted something to him over the crowd but he did not hear and kept on moving. He came back from his journey successfully and approached the king during the celebration and asked what he wanted to tell him before he left, to which the king replied that he wanted to tell him that it was impossible.

She said, like teachers at Kwantlen, leaders in the Ghanaian community demonstrate their commitment to both the past and the future to maintain culture and tradition while working for change and development. She said, like Milo, Ghanaians combine imagination, courage and hope to sustain their families and their country through difficult times, focusing on the future they want.

The evening was also the occasion to recognize some individuals and organizations for their immeasurable contributions to the GCABC and projects in Ghana. Kwantlen University College was recognized for the immense support it has given the GCABC over the years and continues giving.

Afretech Aid Society was also recognized for its projects in Ghana, as were some local merchants and establishments owned by Ghanaians.

Mrs. Mary Frimpong, Mrs. Augusta Odoom, Mrs. Gladys Kyei and Mrs. Geralda Quist-Adade were specially thanked for their hard work in making sure everybody was properly fed at the function.

Photos, top to bottom: GCABC President, Dr. Quist-Adade cutting the cake at Ghana@51 gala night,keynote speaker Dr. Elaine Decker and GCABC Treasurer, Mrs. Judith Lartey,Mrs. Bonnie Sutherland, Director of Afretch, who was honoured for her contribution to the Ghanaian community(Mrs. Sutherland’s Afretech in collaboration with Kwawu Agbemenu and Charles Dr. Quist-Adade have furnished seven high schools in Ghana with more than 300 computers supplied by Kwantlen University College and Douglas College)and
MLA-Burnaby-Willingdon, Hon. John Nuraney delivering a goodwill message.