McGuinty Government Honours Miss Lou - Jamaica's Gift To The World



    Minister Colle Kicks Off Black History Month By Honouring Beloved
    Cultural Icon

    TORONTO, Jan. 31 /CNW/ - Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Mike
Colle launched Black History Month in Ontario today by announcing a $250,000
investment to create Miss Lou's Room at Harbourfront Centre.
    "Miss Lou's legacy of storytelling and pioneering promotion of Jamaican
culture worldwide will now live on forever through this permanent tribute,"
said Colle. "Black History Month is a time for all Ontarians to reflect on the
accomplishments of African-Canadians throughout our history and into the
present. Miss Lou's Room is a fitting addition to this legacy."
    The late Honourable Louise Simone Bennett-Coverley is affectionately
known to millions as Miss Lou. She championed a fierce pride of her Jamaican
culture, using her poetry and personality to legitimize and popularize
Jamaican patois. Miss Lou spread the richness of storytelling wherever she
traveled. A celebrated and cultural ambassador to Jamaica, Miss Lou passed
away on July 26, 2006 in her adopted home, Toronto, Ontario.
    The room, in which Miss Lou performed many times, overlooks Lake Ontario.
It will house a permanent exhibit honouring Miss Lou and her achievements
including photographs and tapes of her storytelling and performances. Plans
are underway to include an interactive program accessible to children and
their families through school visits. It will be a place to honour Miss Lou as
a role-model and pioneer for generations to come, and to pass on her legacy
from the many who loved her in her adopted home of Ontario.
    "Black History Month is a month where we celebrate our rich history and
culture and share them with the rest of Canada," said Pamela Appelt, Miss
Lou's executor. "How fitting that the Government of Ontario should choose to
pay tribute to Miss Lou by naming a room at Harbourfront in her memory."
    "Miss Lou is a Jamaican icon and a cultural gem," said Mary Anne
Chambers, Minister of Children and Youth Services. "The themes of her
writings, songs and theatrical performances are as relevant now as they were
when I was a child."

    Disponible en français

    
                          www.citizenship.gov.on.ca


    Backgrounder
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                Ontario Government Honours Legacy of Miss Lou
    

    Louise Simone Bennett-Coverley, OM, OJ, MBE (September 7, 1919 - July 26,
2006) was an internationally celebrated and much-loved folklorist, writer,
media personality and proud Jamaican-Canadian.
    "Miss Lou" had a connection with Canada stretching back to the 1970s,
when she performed to capacity crowds in Toronto Public Library in Parkdale.
In September of 1988, her composition "You're going home now," won a
nomination for the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television
    Appearing in leading humorous roles in several Jamaican pantomimes and
television shows, Miss Lou went on to travel throughout the world promoting
the culture of Jamaica by lecturing and performing. Although her popularity
was international, she enjoyed a celebrity status in her native Jamaica,
Canada and the United Kingdom. Her poetry has been published several times,
most notably Jamaica Labrish-1966, Anancy and Miss Lou-1979.
    Miss Lou became the first black female broadcaster on the BBC in the
early days of television. She was made a Member of the Order of the British
Empire and received countless other distinguished awards and honorary degrees.
    In 1974, she was appointed to the Order of Jamaica. On Jamaica's
Independence Day 2001, the Honorable Mrs. Louise Bennett-Coverley was
appointed as a Member of the Jamaican Order of Merit for her invaluable and
distinguished contribution to the development of the arts.
    Arriving in Ontario in 1985, Miss Lou chose Toronto, Ontario to be her
adopted home and became a Canadian citizen in 1990. In 1998, she received the
Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters from York University in Toronto for her
ground-breaking contribution to literature and performing arts, which
legitimated "dialect" writing.
    Miss Lou wrote her poems in the language of the people known as Jamaican
patois. She was a pioneer in instilling pride in Jamaican culture and having
patois recognized as a language in its own right - thus influencing
generations of poets to come.
    'Miss Lou's Room' will be located at Harbourfront Centre with view of
Lake Ontario in a room where Miss Lou performed. It will house a permanent
exhibit honouring Miss Lou and her achievements including photographs and
tapes of her storytelling and performances. Plans are underway to include an
interactive program accessible to children and their families through school
visits. It will be a place to honour Miss Lou as a role-model and pioneer for
generations to come, and to pass on her legacy from the many who loved her in
her adopted home of Ontario.

    Disponible en français

    
                          www.citizenship.gov.on.ca
    




For further information:

For further information: Rick Byun, Minister's Office, (416) 325-3460;
Mike Campbell, Communications Branch, (416) 314-6401

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