Barbados Association celebrates by giving back.
For citizens of Bajan and Caribbean descent, celebrating shared culture and values is important. Through the Barbados Association of Winnipeg (BAW), they come together to socialize, to strengthen community, and to give back. A new scholarship is helping engage younger generations with the Association.
Following Barbados’ independence from Britain in 1966, many Bajan expats were already informally gathering and celebrating in Winnipeg.
“The independence of the country represented a major shift in Barbados; where we saw black prime ministers, we saw more black ownership of land,” says Antointte Zloty, a Bajan-Canadian who immigrated in the late 1960s. “So, an annual Independence dinner [held locally in Winnipeg] was really important for celebrating,” Zloty says.
In 1977, Zloty – then in her early 20s – saw an opportunity to formalize the group, and Barbados Association of Winnipeg was born. Amongst BAW’s activities, the group works to promote and develop a sense of unity and community spirit among Bajans, Caribbean-Canadians and all other citizens. Its signature fundraising event – happening annually since 1979 – is Bajan night, which includes a Bajan dinner, live entertainment and dancing.
“It’s really nice to get together and socialize,” says BAW’s President Gregory Gaskin. “Every time we have a meeting, it goes on for hours after the meeting is over, with people socializing.”
When the group was looking for ways to recognize the 50th anniversary of Bajan independence, the 40th anniversary of BAW and the 150th birthday of Canada, as well as trying to reach younger audiences, BAW determined a scholarship was the way to go. It established the Barbados Association of Winnipeg Scholarship through The Winnipeg Foundation.
“I felt we should leave some sort of legacy for youth, to provide them with scholarships along the way,” Gaskin says. “If we keep building, the way it’s going, we are hoping further down the road it could be a greater financial support to young people.”
A requirement of the scholarship is involvement with the community in general, as well as with the Bajan community specifically.
“We are trying to teach [them] the importance of volunteerism, and then see if we can bring some of these students into the organization,” Gaskin says.
While education is highly prized in the Bajan community, visible minorities may not always actively apply for scholarships, Zloty says.
“I think we tend to be more shrinking violets in our communities.”
It will take some time for the first scholarship to be issued as BAW is building its Scholarship Fund through help from the community. The Government of Barbados has even supported the initiative by contributing a flight for the raffle at the annual Bajan Night fundraiser. Countless other individuals and organizations have also contributed, Zloty says.
BAW has enjoyed working with The Foundation, and especially appreciates the marketing and printing support provided, Zloty says.
“It’s been a really good experience working with The Foundation,” Zloty says. “Being treated in a decent way, in a professional manner, even though the Barbados Association’s annual budget is low, we were taken very seriously with regard to establishing the fund.”
Learn more about the Barbados Association of Winnipeg: bawpg.ca
To make a gift to the Barbados Association of Winnipeg Scholarship, go to Barbados Association of Winnipeg Scholarship Award Program Fund.
“BeCause literacy, education and employment empower individuals to achieve their goals and aspirations.”
Gregory Gaskin, Barbados Association of Winnipeg
“BeCause literacy, education and employment enrich our lives through communication with, rejuvenation of, and contribution to our communities.”
Antoinette Zloty, Barbados Association of Winnipeg
Fund: Barbados Association of Winnipeg Scholarship
Cause: Literacy, Education and Employment
Supports: Youth aged 17 to 30 who are members of the Barbados community and/or have Bajan Heritage and are pursuing post-secondary education
To learn more about Causes, visit Find your BeCause
DID YOU KNOW?
You can establish a Scholarship Fund to support students.
Scholarship Funds can provide:
- Scholarships – based on academic achievement or other merit.
- Bursaries – based on financial need.
- Prizes – generally based on a specific accomplishment, such as highest standing in a single course or winner of a competition.
You work with The Foundation to determine the award’s criteria.
The selected school or organization accepts applications, selects award recipients and advises The Foundation of the selections.
The minimum amount required to establish a Scholarship Fund is $20,000, which can be built up over five years. A fund will grow from additional contributions as well as through investment growth.
You can also support Literacy, Education and Employment with a Cause Fund and a contribution of $2,500.
Want to learn more?
Contact Jennifer Lucas at 204-944-9474 ext. 259 or by email.
This story is featured in the Summer 2019 issue of our Working Together magazine. Download or view the full issue on our Publications page.