The meeting is part of the highly anticipated Diaspora Day of Service at the staging of the sixth Biennial Diaspora Conference, scheduled for June 13 to 18 at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, in St James.
On the final day of the conference, members of the Diaspora will carry out a range of projects in communities islandwide in the areas of health, education and community development. Other areas of focus at the conference will include Creative Industries and Diaspora Trade and Investment. Emphasis will also be placed on Immigration and Deportation, Community Development as well as crime and security.
“We are hoping to meet with Jamaicans who are deported from the different regions, from the UK, Canada as well as the United States, to try and determine whether or not they have any recourse or opportunity to come back to the United States. I can’t speak for the UK or Canada,” Jamaica Diaspora Northeast United States of America (USA) Board Member representative, Joan Pinnock, tells JIS News in an interview from her office in the US.
She notes that the meeting will be held at the Holiday Inn Sunspree Resort in Montego Bay on Thursday, June 18, from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Miss Pinnock, who will be accompanied by Diaspora Advisory Board member, USA South, and Immigration Lawyer, Wayne Golding, says she will be making a presentation on the topic: ‘What does it take for you to get back into the US after deportation’.
“All of this will be completely pro bono…I need to make that very clear, so people will know that there will not be any fees for attending this meeting or for the work that I intend to do,” she adds.
Miss Pinnock, who is an Immigration Attorney, says she will be sharing her perspectives on issues relating to immigration and deportation affecting members of the Jamaican Diaspora at the conference.
Following her appointment in January 2015, Miss Pinnock notes that 10 town hall meetings have been held in the USA northeast to promote the conference and the online Jamaica Diaspora Mapping Project, spearheaded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade. The survey aims to capture location, interest and skills of persons, which will result in the establishment of a database to support the Government’s policy direction and interaction with members of the Diaspora.
Miss Pinnock tells JIS News that a committee comprising 20 Jamaicans living in different parts of the USA was also formed to assist her in organising the meetings in various locations. She notes that over 200 persons have confirmed their attendance at the Conference.
President of the Jamaican Diaspora Canada Foundation, Valerie Steele, informs JIS News that a contingent of about 150 people from Canada will be attending the conference.
“People are revved up and ready to come. For those of us who have been coming to conferences, we have high expectations. The rungs of the ladder are high and I know that the sixth will not disappoint,” she says.
She says the focus on investment and business at the conference is appropriate and cites the many investment opportunities for Jamaicans, such as the stock exchange and real estate.
“I think it is a grand opportunity for Jamaicans and friends of Jamaica to invest in Jamaica. Whether to invest in the stock exchange or real estate, the focus is there and when people come down I am sure that they will see all kinds of areas to participate in,” she adds.
Mrs. Steele says that members of the Foundation, formed in 2004 at the inaugural Diaspora Conference, are also concerned about the recent spate of crime and violence in Jamaica and will be participating in the discussions on crime and security.
“This is not to say that where we live do not have violence…some of the places we live in are quite violent but, that doesn’t mean that you should not want to see your little island do better,” she adds.
The President says she has been encouraging Jamaicans to participate in the Diaspora Mapping Project.
“We generally have to do a lot of stroking to get people to take a moment and sign up, but I know that over time, Jamaica will know where 1st, 2nd and 3rd generations of Jamaicans are, so I am hopeful that it is going to be something very beneficial to Jamaica,” she says.
Meanwhile, the Jamaican Diaspora in the UK is gearing up to participate in the conference.
Jamaica’s High Commissioner to the UK, Her Excellency Aloun Ndombet Assamba, tells JIS News that immigration, health and education are on top of a list submitted by the UK to be included on the discussion agenda.
“Of particular interest to us is the symposium which is being held on immigration and we made a request of the organizers that this should not be a concurrent session with any other session. We are also interested in health and education,” she says.
Advisory Board member for the Midwest USA, Leo Gilling, tells JIS News that about 100 members will be coming to Jamaica for the conference. Mr. Gilling, who is also the leader of the Jamaica Diaspora Education Taskforce, says he will be updating the conference on the work of the Education Taskforce, which has been in operation for the past two years.
“I am going to share everything that we have done in the past two years and the plans that we have for the next couple of years with all the other Diaspora members from across the world, giving them ideas of how to collaborate, how to partner and how to build structures and infrastructure to get things done for education and other social affairs,” he says.
The conference, spearheaded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, in collaboration with the Jamaica Diaspora Foundation, the Jamaica Diaspora Institute, the Jamaica Diaspora Advisory Board Members, key community members and Diaspora community groups, will be held under the theme – ‘Jamaica and the Diaspora: Linking for Growth and Prosperity’.
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