Saturday, August 08, 2015
The grandeur of the national anthem reverberated around 65 Trinity Street where the 2015 Toronto CIBC Para Pan Athletes' Village is located, as the Jamaican flag was hoisted at the welcome ceremony on Thursday.
Brand Jamaica was on show as officials and athletes, attired uniformly in the national colours, assembled with Jamaicans residing in Canada who bonded with Team Jamaica in an expression of national unity.
Several hand-held flags were waved in a flurry of patriotism, while the contingent's media outfit captured expressions of pride on camera. The occasion was celebratory, but reflections on the purpose of the journey and the business at hand introduced a solemnity which gave the ceremony greater meaning for Jamaica's athletes.
Chef de Mission Randolph Jones led Team Jamaica into the International Zone where flag-raising ceremonies at international and regional games are customarily held, and after the flag was hoisted he presented Jamaica's gift of the globally acclaimed Blue Mountain coffee and an assortment of Jamaican spices to a representative of the mayor who, in turn, handed him a replica of the 2015 Toronto Para Pan American torch.
Music, modern and cultural, and dances performed by youth to the sounds of generational hits, characterised the ceremony in which Brazil and Bermuda were the other participating countries.
Christopher Samuda, president of the Jamaica Paralympic Association, summed up the mood: "The ceremony was a celebration of sport, its camaraderie, friendship and unifying influence, and Team Jamaica embodied that expression."
Wayne and Heather Fullwood and Roger Shaw, Jamaicans residing in Canada, noticeably celebrated with the team and after the ceremony as the festivities continued in the chef de mission's office with the volunteers assigned to Jamaica who have become, in their words, "totally Jamaicanised".