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Harry Jerome Awards 2006 Wrap-up

23 Feb 2006

As I drove down the 401 en route to my first Harry Jerome awards I didn’t quite know what to expect.  I had heard a lot about the annual gala over the years but never had the desire or interest to go.  However, this year I was provided with the opportunity to go as a member of the press and I’m extremely glad that I attended the event.

Upon arriving to the Congress Centre it was a site to see the parking lot packed from end to end.  As my partner and I entered we were greeted in the main foyer and were directed to the main room.  Instantly we marveled at the elegance of the event and its patrons.  It was a fabulously decorated room filled with elegant women and distinguished gentleman young and old. The ballroom where the actual ceremony took place was filled with what looked like Kings and Queens .  As a young black man, it’s nice to know the black community can come together to have such an exquisite affair.  It’s even better knowing there are such events as the Harry Jerome Awards that young black people can go to other than the clubs or someone’s barbecue.

Personally, watching outstanding members of the black community being recognized for their hard work and excellence was truly uplifting. There were 12 winners in total; amongst them were Ndija Cheavon Makeeba Anderson who was recognized for her academic achievements, Dr. Joyce Lavina Ross who was recognized for her involvement in the community and Winston Stewart who was recognized for his role as an entrepreneur and one of Canada''s first black surgeons and civil rights leaders, Dr. Douglas Salmon was posthumously honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

There was one winner for the Arts, Media Entertainment award, Louis Mercier who I thought to be extremely interesting.  I was especially intrigued by something he said that truly captured my attention.

Not to say I wasn’t intrigued by the others but Mr. Mercier’s words really spoke to me.   He said ‘his family was a mirror of his excellence’.   I thought it was a gracious and humble statement. Listening to his acceptance speech was an inspirational moment that made me want to strive and excel even further in all my endeavors.

I wanted to find out more about this gentleman’s story so after his reception of the award, my partner and I took a few minutes to speak with him about his life and plans after the Harry Jerome award.

Louis Mercier started his career as an actor who dared to dream knowing inside that he would never give up. He took time from pursuing his art to attend University and focus on his studies to become an engineer.  During this time Louis became ill which he looked at as a sign calling him back to his true passion. As a result of Louis continuing his love for film, directing and acting he is now the recipient of a prestigious Harry Jerome award. I found his story especially interesting because it is symbolic of the decision that a lot of career oriented young individuals are faced with in modern society; the struggle to remain true to your passions or do something that secures a future. The rest speaks volumes.  The fact that he was standing in front of us holding an award for Arts, Media and Entertainment exemplifies an individual who realized his true calling.  Stories such as Louis Mercier''s are what makes the Harry Jerome awards. These same stories of strength and exemplary character should help inspire and motivate future winners. If the goal of the awards in the eyes of Hugh D. Graham president of the Black Business and Professional Association are “to have role models by whom our youth and indeed all Canadians should be inspired by”, then this year’s awards did just that.

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