St. Joan of Arc Catholic Secondary School
Canada is renowned and admired on the world stage for its diversity and the successful integration of many cultures in our society. The black Canadian community consists of people whose backgrounds range from many countries and continents. This dynamic group of Canadians has made important contributions to Canada's development and vitality. One Canadian whose contribution reaches across borders is Dr. Mavis Burke.
Jamaican born Mavis Burke, a graduate of the University of the West Indies and the University of London, came to Canada in 1970 to continue her research on education. After completing her PhD at the University of Onawa, she held positions in organizations such as the Ontario Social Assistance Review Board, the Ontario Women's Directorate, the Ontario Ministry of Education, and the Ontario Advisory Council on Multiculturalism and Citizenships.
In 1987, the then Prime Minister of Jamaica, Edward Seaga, made a plea to the Jamaican diaspora in Canada for donations to support early childhood education in Jamaica. In response to this call, Dr. Burke created the Project for the Advancement of Childhood Education (PACE), Canada. According to their Mission Statement, the objective of PACE is the promotion of early childhood education with a special focus on children of pre-school age in situations of racial, cultural or economic disadvantage.
As an expert in the field of education, Dr. Burke was well equipped with the passion and skills that would allow her to successfully carry out the vision of the organization. Money donated to PACE enables them to contribute thousands of laptops, text books and school supplies to schools in Jamaica each year. The fund is even used to buy cooking appliances so that students can have a hot meal each day. PACE also assists in the development of teachers by offering them scholarships and bursaries to continue their education.
In 2009, PACE made one of the most groundbreaking donations to the Ministry of Education in Jamaica. It was called "Tech de Bus," a bus converted into a mobile computer lab which travelled across rural communities from school to school, giving children an opportunity to learn how to work with technology they might not otherwise be exposed to.
PACE expanded their focus to improve the well-being of children in Canada as well. PACE adopts early childhood institutions in the Toronto area whose students are mainly from poor and often single parent families. The children are provided with nutritious meals and other necessities for a comfortable learning environment.
I have heard the saying that it takes a village to raise a child. Dr. Mavis Burke truly demonstrates how together we can improve young lives. Through her work and determination, she has inspired many Canadians. Some have adopted schools in Jamaica and have even visited these schools to see the impact that their donations have made.
As someone who spent the first half of their life in Jamaica, I am very aware that there is a lack of resources in many schools. That is why I am so inspired by the work that Dr. Mavis Burke and the PACE organization have done through this life changing program. Like Dr. Burke, I am a strong believer in equality, and as a student who has volunteered my time to tutoring young children, I believe in the development of children through education.
Dr. Burke illustrates the great contributions that black Canadians have made not only to the Canadian society, but the global community as well. By her example, I am motivated to do my part.
The essays submitted pursuant to the RBC® Black History Month Student Essay Competition and provided herein are the original work of the students who have entered the Competition. Royal Bank of Canada assumes no responsibility for material that is false, inaccurate or violates or infringes upon the rights of third parties, including privacy and intellectual property rights.