Ambassador Susan E. Rice and Raptors Head, Masai Ujiri amongst six honourees to be recognized at the ninth annual University of the West Indies Toronto Benefit Gala


TORONTO, Jan. 9, 2018 /PRNewswire-HISPANIC PR WIRE/ – The University of the West Indies today announced that Ambassador Susan E. Rice, who served in President Barack Obama’s administration, and Mr. Masai Ujiri, President of the Raptors, are amongst the six being honoured at the ninth annual UWI Toronto Benefit Gala on Saturday, April 7, 2018, at The Ritz-Carlton Toronto. The other honourees include Dr. Victor S. Blanchette, Dr. Avis Glaze, Dr. Michael S. Pollanen and the YMCA. The event will again be hosted by CBC News Anchor Dwight Drummond. Lead Sponsor is Scotiabank for the ninth consecutive year.

Ambassador Rice will receive the Luminary Award, which is presented to people of Caribbean Heritage who have made their mark globally, in their respective fields, or people who have brought prominence to the Caribbean or to issues which affect the Region.

Ms. Rice served as National Security Advisory and U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations. She led the National Security Council Staff and chaired the Cabinet-level National Security Principals Committee. For four years, she also served as U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs. In 2000, she was the recipient of the White House’s Samuel Nelson Drew Memorial Award for distinguished contributions to the formation of peaceful, cooperative relationships between states. Other roles she has served include Special Assistant to President William J. Clinton, Senior Director for African Affairs at the National Security Council at the White House, and Director for International Organizations and Peacekeeping on the National Security Staff. She was also a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, conducting research and publishing widely on U.S. foreign policy, transnational security threats, weak states, global poverty and development. The Washington native has served on numerous boards, including the Bureau of National Affairs, the National Democratic Institute and the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. In 2017, French President Francois Hollande presented Ambassador Rice with the Award of Commander, the Legion of Honor of France, for her contributions to Franco-American relations.

Mr. Masai Ujiri, professional basketball executive and President of the Toronto Raptors, will receive the G. Raymond Chang Award. The G. Raymond Chang Award was established to honour outstanding individuals who exemplify the leadership ideals of G. Raymond Chang (1948-2014), who was a well-respected and outstanding Canadian and Caribbean business leader and philanthropist who embodied great humility and commitment to his fellow persons. Mr. Chang passed away in July 2014, and was the UWI Gala’s patron for five years.

Nigerian born, Mr. Ujiri is a former basketball scout and player. After emigrating to the U.S., he played at Bismarck State College and Montana State University Billings and then played professionally in Europe for six years. In 2002, he worked as a youth coach in Nigeria after ending his professional playing career. He then became an unpaid scout for NBA’s Orlando Magic and eventually was hired as an international scout for the Denver Nuggets, followed by becoming the Director of Global Scouting for the Toronto Raptors. Mr. Ujiri became the Raptors’ assistant general manager in 2008, but returned to the Nuggets in 2010 as executive vice president in charge of basketball operations. In 2013, he was named NBA Executive of the Year, the only non-American ever to receive that honour. Later that year, he became the President and General Manager of the Raptors. He is also affiliated with the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders Africa program, which promotes basketball throughout the continent. Ujiri’s work with Basketball Without Borders is profiled in Hubert Davis’s 2016 award winning documentary film Giants of Africa. Most recently Mr. Ujiri was conferred an Honorary Doctorate by Ryerson University in Toronto.

The Chancellor’s Award will be presented to the YMCA. As one of Canada’s longest standing and largest charities since 1851, it is dedicated to the growth of all persons in spirit, mind and body, and to their sense of responsibility to each other and the global community. It provides vital community services that are having a positive impact on some of Canada’s most pressing social issues. The YMCA has also assisted people of the Caribbean Diaspora in Toronto. The Chancellor’s Award is presented to organizations which have contributed significantly to the Caribbean, or outstanding organizations owned by persons of Caribbean heritage.

The Vice Chancellor’s Award is presented to people of Caribbean heritage and others whose body of work have contributed to the betterment of the Caribbean Region and who have made significant contributions within their organizations and communities. Three people will be awarded in 2018.

Dr. Victor S. Blanchette is a Medical Doctor of the Pediatric Thrombosis and Hemostasis Program in the Division of Haematology/Oncology at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, and Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Toronto. He is the McCaig Magee Family Medical Doctor of the SickKids Caribbean Cancer and Blood Disorders Initiative in the Centre for Global Child Health at the Hospital for Sick Children. His research interests are in the area of the congenital and acquired bleeding disorders of children. Dr. Blanchette is the Director of the Pediatric Comprehensive Care Hemophilia Program at the Hospital for Sick Children, and chair of the International Prophylaxis Study Group (IPSG). He is an elected Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of the United Kingdom.

Dr. Avis Glaze is one of Canada’s outstanding educators, an author and a recognized international leader in education. This award-winning educator has experienced all levels of the school system as a classroom teacher, Superintendent of Schools and Director of Education. Dr. Glaze was one of five Commissioners on Ontario’s landmark Royal Commission on Learning, setting directions for the future of the education system. As the Province’s first Chief Student Achievement Officer and Founding CEO of the Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat, she played a vital role in working with educators to improve student learning, achievement and well-being. She taught at faculties of education at York University and the University of Toronto, and was appointed Professor in Residence at the Faculty of Education, University of Toronto. She is currently President of Edu-quest International Inc., offering a wide range of educational services and speaking engagements across the Globe.

Dr. Michael S. Pollanen is Chief Forensic Pathologist for Ontario and a Professor and Vice-Chair (Innovation) of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology at the University of Toronto. He has been involved in case work and forensic missions in: East Timor, Cambodia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Haiti, Thailand, Jamaica, Iraq, and Bermuda. He is a member of the forensic advisory board of the International Committee of the Red Cross and is the immediate Past President of the International Association of Forensic Science. Pollanen is a Founder of Forensic Pathology in the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. He is also Deputy Chief Coroner in Ontario.

Under the theme “Light, Learning and Liberty,” The UWI Toronto Benefit Gala brings together Canada’s business and academic communities to celebrate the greatness and tireless work of the honourees, and raise well needed funds for outstanding students in the Caribbean, whom otherwise would not have the chance to pursue higher learning.

Former Gala honourees include: Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Mpilo Tutu, Senator Murray Sinclair, The Honourable Mr. Justice Michael Tulloch, Professor the Honourable Renn Holness O.J., Dr. Vivian Rumbihar, Kay McConney, Wayne Purboo, GraceKennedy Limited, 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, Tessanne Chin,  Roger Mooking and Mr. David Taylor, retired boxer and undisputed heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis, The Hospital for Sick Children, Mary Anne Chambers, Dr. Upton Allen, Dr. Budhendranauth Doobay, The University of Toronto, award winning author Malcolm Gladwell, The University Health Network, 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.

In nine years, the event has awarded almost 400 scholarships. Many of the students are now practicing in their field, pursuing their dreams.

The Patron of the ninth annual Gala is The G. Raymond Chang Family (wife Donette Chin-Loy Chang, and children Andrew Chang and Brigette Chang Addorisio).

Please visit our website, or call 416-214-7848 or email the secretariat [email protected], for more information.

About The University of the West Indies
The University of the West Indies was established in 1948 as a College of the University of London. It achieved full university status in 1962. Today it is the only pan-Caribbean tertiary level institution offering a wide array of diverse and accredited programmes to 45,000 students throughout the region, with campuses in Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Anguilla, Antigua, The Bahamas, Belize, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Turks and Caicos.

Over the years the UWI has also collaborated and formed MOU’s with several tertiary institutions in Canada and some of the UWI’s graduates have also received honours from Canadian universities.

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