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Americas

Within the Americas region, there are 13 Commonwealth countries and the RCS currently has a presence in 7 of these. We have 9 independent branches within Canada, which is the most populated of these member states.

The Commonwealth members in this region are Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago. Within this incredibly diverse region there is the Commonwealth's largest territory, Canada; Guyana meanwhile has some of the world's best conserved tropical forests.

Regional Co-ordinator, Caribbean: Cheryll Sealy Belle

 C.BelleDSC 1857 220Cheryll is Chair of The Royal Commonwealth Society, Barbados Branch, which was established in 1985. A former State Registered Nurse in the UK, specialising in family planning and psycho-sexual problems, Cheryll attended Erdiston Teachers College in Barbados where she obtained Social & Abnormal Psychology training as well as training at the University of the West Indies in the field of Counselling. She attended Human Resource Management training at BIMAP and Drug Addiction training in Counselling at Barbados Community College.

Cheryll has held positions within many organisations including The Bridge – Alliance of Caribbean Nations dedicated to Primary Prevention substance abuse programmes for youth, PRIDE International. (Parents Resource Institute on Drug Education), Partners of America, the Barbados Childrens’ Trust and the Barbados chapter of the Magna Carta. She received the PRIDE Family Nations Award in 1997 and the PRIDE International Award in 1998.

Regional Youth Co-ordinator, Caribbean: Ryan Brathwaite

Ryan web photo220Ryan is Chair of the Sports Committee at RCS Barbados Branch. He was invited to join having co-ordinated the Commonwealth Relay in the presence of HRH Princess Ann to commemorate the 30th Anniversary celebrations of the branch. As chair of the committee he has responsibility for sustaining the Commonwealth relay, in addition to fostering closer collaboration with the sporting entities within the country. In October 2016, Ryan served as branch delegate to the RCS International Branches Meeting in London and during the Queen’s Baton Relay visit to Barbados in June 2017, he was selected as one of the official Baton runners on behalf of RCS Barbados Branch. In July 2017, Ryan represented The Royal Commonwealth Society at the 2017 Bahamas Commonwealth Youth Games, serving as a facilitator in the Games’ Athlete Impact Labs.

Ryan attended the International Olympic Academy Sessions in Greece as well as representing Barbados as a Young Ambassador to the Nanjing Youth Olympic Games in 2014. In 2015, he was the recipient of an international scholarship award from the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC).

Ryan holds a Masters degree in Sport Administration from the Russian International Olympic University and a Bachelor of Science degree in Management studies from the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus. He currently works as a Consultant within a sports international relations and corporate communications agency.

Regional Co-ordinator, Americas:  Judith Elson

Judith Elson CropJudith Elson has been involved with the RCS for many years; she was recently Chair of The Royal Commonwealth Society of Canada and previously Chair of the Montreal branch of the RCS for fourteen years. She has been particularly involved with The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition, co-ordinating it in Quebec Province during her Montreal chairmanship and is currently a judge for the international competition. Judith has travelled widely and has attended several International Meetings of the RCS, most recently London in 2016, as well as the CHOGM in Malta in 2015.  Originally from England, Judith now lives in Montreal.

Judith has a degree in English Literature and a Grand Diplome from the Cordon Bleu in Paris.  She writes reviews of books by Commonwealth writers for the ‘Commonwealth Observer’ in Canada.

Regional Youth Co-ordinator, Americas:  Jenny Stodola

JKS crop2Jenny Stodola is an Associate Fellow of The Royal Commonwealth Society and  currently holds the position of Vice-Chair Youth at RCS Canada to facilitate youth outreach activities and programming at a national level. She also provides support to the 9 local RCS Branches in Canada to help them develop their local youth portfolio. She is a strong advocate for the Commonwealth in Canada, stemming from over 8 years of voluntary participation in the National Student Commonwealth Forum (NSCF), a programme of the RCS Ottawa Branch for over 45 years. 

In 2012, Jenny was the Canadian representative at the CYC Building Bridges Young Women Leaders Fellowship and in 2016 she participated in the International Youth Meeting of the RCS in the UK. Her current career is in online education at the undergraduate level, utilizing her educational background in biochemistry (BSc) and Immunology, Virology (MSc), as well as skills gained from her Commonwealth endeavours.

Intl networks Americas 220
REGIONAL CO-ORDINATORS, AMERICAS

Cheryll Sealy Belle: cheryll.belle@thercs.org
Ryan Brathwaite: ryan.brathwaite@thercs.org
Judith Elson: judith.elson@thercs.org
Jenny Stodola: jenny.stodola@thercs.org

What's happening in this region?

 

The Honourable Madam Justice Sandra Mason, Justice of Appeal of the Supreme Court of Barbados, was recently appointed President of the Commonwealth Secretariat Arbitral Tribunal. With this appointment, Madam Justice Mason becomes the first female and first Caribbean appointee to this post. Madam Justice Mason has served on the Tribunal since 2013, and is the first Barbadian to be appointed to its membership.

The Commonwealth Secretariat Arbitral Tribunal operates among members of the Commonwealth of Nations to resolve issues concerning contract disputes.

Madam Justice Mason is a long standing Council Member of the Royal Commonwealth Society, Barbados Branch. Mrs. Cheryll Belle, Council and Trustees  of the RCS Barbados Branch extend congratulations to the Honourable Madam Justice Mason on this achievement.

A former High Court Judge, Madam Justice was the first female Justice appointed to Barbados’ Court of Appeal in 2008.

IMG 20170808 WA00088 August 2017, Georgetown, Guyana: The Queen's Baton Relay. On Tuesday 8 August, The Queen's Baton visited Georgetown, Guyana. As part of its route through the city, the Baton was carried by five Associate Fellows of the RCS. The group of young leaders took the Baton from the Manatee Pond in the Botanic Gardens to the Guyana Cricket Board entrance on Regent Street, to hand it over to the next team. The Queen's Baton Relay will continue throughout the Commonwealth in the run-up to the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in 2018.

 

 

Vancouver QBR1 August 2017, The Queen’s Baton relay stopped in Vancouver where RCS British Columbia (BC) Branch was its host. The Officers of the Society of the Honourable Guard, organised by Branch Chair Shawn Wade (pictured), escorted the Baton to an event organised by the BC Sports Hall of Fame at the Terry Fox Plaza, accompanied by bagpipers. Members of the Guard each took turns carrying the baton and upon arrival an games official gave a talk on the Baton and its significance.

In the evening the Australian and Queensland governments hosted a reception, at which attendees learned more about the Gold Coast and got to see and hold the lit Baton.  

TorontoIMGL9780320x28 July, Ontario, Canada: A reception was held at Tim Hortons Field, the site on which the original Commonwealth Games stadium was built. Before its arrival at the official ceremony, the Baton was taken in a relay that visited all three of the original Games sites. At the stadium itself, it was carried in a relay of individuals who had competed for Canada at the Commonwealth Games in every decade since their founding (the 1930's athlete was represented by a descendant). The ceremony included a performance by First Nations singers and was followed by a luncheon. David Haisell attended from RCS Toronto branch.

Photo: Shelly Cameron. Pictured l-r Bradlee Lloyd 'Mr. B' Henry (son of Bluestone Cloud), Wadata:wi (Jadyn) Bomberry of the Mohawk Nation, Monique Taylor, Member of the Provincial Parliament for Hamilton Mountain, Her Honour Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Minaade Sin Aankote (Bluestone Cloud) of the Ojibwe (Bear Clan) – Henvey Inlet First Nation, Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger

CYG Impact Labs21-23 July, Bahamas: Commonwealth Youth Games Athlete Impact Labs: At the Commonwealth Youth Games, The Royal Commonwealth Society, in partnership with the Commonwealth Secretariat, Commonwealth Games Federation and UNICEF, organised and facilitated a series of workshops for young athletes. These so-called Athlete Impact Labs are interactive sessions designed to help both athletes and Games officials explore how they can protect and promote human rights and make a positive impact across the Commonwealth through sport. Participants explored the core values and principles of the Commonwealth, how sport can make a contribution to global development, the rights and responsibilities of athletes and the role of young people in governing and developing sport. A total of 241 young athletes and officials from 20 countries attended the sessions and provided overwhelmingly positive feedback. 

IPersaud23206 July 2017, Jamaica: The Queen's Baton Relay. The Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) hosted a cocktail reception for the Queen’s Baton Relay at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston.  Members of the sports fraternity and the Minister of Sports and Culture were in attendance as were members of The Royal Commonwealth Society, Jamaica Branch. The following day the Queen’s Baton visited the mountains in St. Ann.

Pictured(l-r) with the Queen’s Baton is President of JOA, Mr. Christopher Samuda; Minister, Olivia Grange; RCS Jamaica Branch Chair, Indera Persaud and branch member Mr. Winston Bayley

 

2 HRH in Ottawa Saldana Crop resize1 July, Canada Day, Ottawa: RCS Toronto members Dr Colin and Sheila Saldanha were invited by their Excellencies The Rt Hon David Johnston Governor General of Canada and Mrs Sharon Johnston to join TRH The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall for the inauguration of 'The Queens Entrance' to Rideau Hall, the official residence of The Governor General of Canada in Ottawa. Among the subjects discussed were the role of the RCS in Canada, the 150 Anniversary of the RCS and the International meeting of branches due to be held in London in 2018.

10-14 June 2017: Bridgetown, Barbados: The Queen's Baton Relay

QBR Barbados Composite

Two RCS Barbados branch members, Andrew Hutchinson and Ryan Brathwaite, carried the Baton; cyclists and runners carried it in subsequent legs of its route around Bridgetown. Photos: Maurice Giles.

BarbadosQueens Baton Relay 12th June 2017 21The official ceremony was held at the residence of the Governor General. Pictured L-R Mrs Sandra Osbourne Legal Representative for Commonwealth Games Federation; Mr. James Gardiner Australian Honorary Consul ; His Excellency Sir Elliott Belgrave Governor General of Barbados ; Mr. Steven Stoute President of the Barbados Olympic Association; Mr. Steven Lashley Ministry of Culture ,Sports and Youth Back Row: Lt. Caddle Aide-De-Camp to the Governor General. 

BarbadosOA cocktail Party 20In the evening a cocktail reception was hosted by Mr. Steve Stoute President of the Barbados Olympic Association. Pictured L-R Mr. James Gardiner Australian Honorary Consul, Mrs. Cheryll Belle Chairman RCS Barbados Branch and Her Excellency Mrs. Jan Henderson NZ High Commissioner.

 

 

Manitoba crop14 June 2017, Winnipeg: Norman MacFie, President of RCS Newfoundland Branch, Murray Burt, President of the RCS Manitoba Branch and Elizabeth Burt, Secretary of the RCS Manitoba Branch, met to discuss branch matters at the Manitoba Club, during Mr MacFie's attendance at the Air Cadet League annual convention held in Winnipeg, Manitoba.  Top subject: building up a younger membership base for the RCS branches.


 

DomRep MG 603916 May 2017: The Roundtable of Commonwealth Countries in the Dominican Republic organised a meeting between the visiting Prime Minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness (pictured) and business leaders. Accompanying Mr Holness were Jamaica Foreign Minister, Kamina Johnson Smith; Tourism Minister, Edmund Bartlett and Economic Affairs Ambassador, Aubyn Hill. Fernandos Gonzales, President of the Roundtable expressed the view that the visit revealed the Jamaicans’ interest in bolstering political and trade relations with the Dominican Republic and said: "“It is important to remember that Jamaica is a member of the Commonwealth, that the Dominican Republic also participates with that nation in CARIFORUM, the Association of Caribbean States."

Barbados QYL24 April 2017: Barbados a presentation was given by His Excellency Sir Elliott Belgrave, GCMG, KA, Governor General of Barbados to the four Barbadians who have won the Queen's Young Leaders Award, Donnya Piggott, founder of The Association of Barbados Gays, Lesbians and All-Sexuals Against Discrimination (B-GLAD), Firhaana Bulbulia founder of the Barbados Association of Muslim Ladies, Shamelle Rice founder of Jabez House, and  Mrs. Jamilla Sealy, Regional Chairperson of the Caribbean Youth Environmental Network (CYEN). The event was attended by His Excellency Guy Hewitt, High Commissioner of Barbados to the United Kingdom, Cheryll Sealy Belle, Chairperson of RCS Barbados Branch and other members of the Society.  

ManitobaApril17Resized2April 2017: RCS Manitoba Branch hosted a reception for interested groups to meet British Consul General, Caroline Saunders, visiting the province from Calgary, Alberta.  Invited were members of the Canadian International Council along with executive members of the Manitoba and Winnipeg chambers of commerce, the World Trade Centre and Economic Development Winnipeg. Over 60 branch members attended.

Pictured: Jeanette and Dr. James Popplow, Ms Caroline Saunders, British Consul General, Debra Lindeblom, Elizabeth and Murray Burt

 Barbados NZ ReceptionRESIZED14 March 2017: RCS Barbados branch held a reception at the residence of the New Zealand High Commissioner, in celebration of the Commonwealth, in the presence of (pictured l-r) Mr. David Henderson (husband of the NZ High Commissioner), Her Excellency Mrs. Jan Henderson NZ High Commissioner, Sir Anand Satyanand, immediate past Chairman of the Commonwealth Foundation and former Governor of New Zealand,  Mrs. Cheryll Belle Chairman of The Royal Commonwealth Society Barbados Branch and Mrs Lady Satyanand. 

This followed the annual multi-faith Observance for Commonwealth Day, held in Bridgetown in the presence of His Excellency Sir Elliott Belgrave, GCMG, KA, Governor General of Barbados.

 DomRep MG 2871RESIZED14 March 2017: The Roundtable of Commonwealth Countries in the Dominican Republic gathered diplomats from nations accredited in the Dominican Republic, including presidents of the bi-national chambers of Britain, Canada, Trinidad and India, to mark Commonwealth Day. Matthew Webb, Gt. Britain, read the Commonwealth Day message from HM The Queen; Roundtable President, Fernando González Nicolás, delivered the keynote speech saying that recent trading figures placed Commonwealth countries as the Dominican Republic’s third biggest trading partner, after the United States and Haiti.

 TorontoAnnualGeneral Meeting Arts and Letter Club 2016 50CROP RESIZE2016: RCS Toronto branch held a fundraiser in aid of the Sri Lankan charity Mencafep, which supports people with disabilities. Pictured: Sri Lanka Branch Chair, Shiva Yogendrenathen receives the donation on behalf of Mecafep from RCS Toronto Branch Chair Andrew McMurty at the Arts & Letters Club, Toronto, Canada.

 

 

Nova Scotia student group15 October 2016: Nova Scotia branch of the RCS engaged with local students on a scenic bus tour of the South Shore of Nova Scotia, organised by branch member, Stephen Cooper. They were met by the President, Heather MacKinnon in Chester.

 

 

Barbados4resizedCommonwealth Day 2016: RCS Barbados Branch of The held its Annual Multi-Faith Observance for Commonwealth Day at the James Street Methodist Church in Bridgetown.

The Observance, which was conducted by Rev. Tanya Conliffe, the Methodist Chaplain of the Cave Hill Campus of The University of the West Indies assisted by Dean Emeritus, The Very Reverend Dr. Frank Marshall, CBE, featured a meditation by Rev. Dr. Michael Clarke, the Principal of Codrington College, Readings by the Baha'i, Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Buddhist and Muslim faiths, the latter read by Pandit Thakoor Prashad, the reading of Her Majesty's Commonwealth Day Message by the Governor-General of Barbados, His Excellency Sir Elliott Belgrave, GCMG, KA and the singing of anthem 'Come, See' by the choir of The Coleridge & Parry School.

Manitoba3CROPJune 2015: Manitoba Branch At a reception at the Legislature, Manitoba's Lt. Governor, Her Honor Janice Filmon, and Premier, Greg Salinger, unveiled a coin issued by the Royal Canadian Mint (in Winnipeg) on the occasion of the Queen becoming Britain's longest reigning Monarch. The picture shows the unveiling of the coin; fitting refreshments of 'cream teas' were served!

 

 

 



Across the Americas region, 13 Queens Young Leaders have been announced - see the list

IMG 0006 VancouverApril 2015: Vancouver Island Branch held a Baby Shower to welcome the new royal baby expected by Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. However, the gifts of brushed cotton ‘receiving blankets’ were for newborns in Vanuatu, one of the most urgent requirements for babies as the islands come to terms with the loss of homes and hospitals in the worst typhoon ever experienced in the South Pacific. Pictured arriving with their blankets are two of Vancouver Island branch’s most faithful members, Mrs Marion Adams, 94 (left) and Mrs Margaret McDougall, 99. Also attending the meeting was Dr Unger of Victoria, who had recently returned from Vanuatu.

RCS MFO 4 Choir sings CROPCommonwealth Day 2015: Barbados Branch hosted its Annual Multi-Faith Observance at St. Leonard's Church, Bridgetown, in commemoration of Commonwealth Day and in celebration of the 30th Anniversary of the Branch. His Excellency Sir Elliott Belgrave, GCMG, KA, Governor-General of Barbados and Patron of the Branch read Her Majesty's Commonwealth Day Message.  In keeping with the theme 'A Young Commonwealth', Barbados National Youth Parliament representative Miss Saskia Singh and CARICOM Youth Ambassador Mr. Mosiah Hoyte delivered addresses to the audience of nearly 500. Pictured is the choir of the Grantley Prescod Memorial School singing "Chatter with the Angels"  

Vancouver IslandIMG 0042Commonwealth Day 2015: Vancouver Island Branch was celebrated at Government House of British Columbia, hosted by Lieutenant Governor, the Honourable Judith Guichon OC. Pictured from left: Robert Rathbun (Society of Officers of the Honourable Guard); Jeneece Edroff, nominee and runner up of the QYLA; Wendy Halliday (President of the Vancouver Island Branch); Pamela Hobbs (Wartime technician of Bletchley Park); Christopher Stanbury (also an Officer of the Honourable Guard) and David Wynne, VI branch member visiting from Singapore. The Honour Guard welcomed visitors at the Porte Cochere of Government House with swords drawn overhead. The luncheon was opened with a procession led by a piper.

Embajador Fisher Priscilla Comer Fernando Gonzalez y Roberto Herrera entre otrosCommonwealth Day 2015: Santo Domingo. The Roundtable of Commonwealth Countries in the Dominican Republic, in partnership with the British Embassy hosted a celebration at the New Horizons Bilingual School. British Ambassador, Steven Fisher, read the message from HM The Queen and Head of the Commonwealth and noted that this year's theme was 'A Young Commonwealth' while Commonwealth Roundtable President, Fernando Gonzalez Nicolas, stressed the Commonwealth’s political, social and economic importance for Dominicans.

The Commonwealth Round Table is an organization that promotes bilateral relations between Dominican Republic and the 53 member countries around the world.

JamaicaCommonwealth Day 2015: RCS Jamaica joined 52 other nations on March 9 with a celebration hosted by Governor-General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen, at King’s House.The event, under the theme: ‘A Young Commonwealth’ was organised by the Royal Commonwealth Society, Jamaica Branch, and featured the reading of the Commonwealth message from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II by the Governor-General, who also raised a toast to the Queen (pictured).

WinnipegCommonwealth Day 2015: Winnipeg Branch His Honour Philip Lee and Her Honour Anita Lee, Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba, with Murray Burt, President of the Royal Commonwealth Society, Manitoba Branch.

 

 

 

DSC01405November 2014: Over the past 25 years the Nova Scotia Branch of the Royal Commonwealth Society has been taking Commonwealth Students on a sight-seeing tour of Lunenburg, NS. Pictured here, the latest group taking a short break in the historic village of Chester, NS.

 

 

 

Toronto RCS event Picture21 October 2014: Toronto Branch presented Commonwealth Speaker Series & Annual AGM on the topic of Commonwealth Legacy - The Westminster Parliamentary System. All are welcome to attend this event featuring special guest speaker and Commonwealth Parliamentary Expert Professor Peter H. Russell, O.C. Click here for more information. 

 

Commonwealth Games Canada logo website24 September 2014: RCS Ottawa presented Brian MacPherson, Chief Executive Officer of Commonwealth Games Canada, and Sultana Frizell, Gold Medalist Commonwealth Games, at The Naval Officers’ Mess, 78 Lisgar St, Ottawa, Ontario. 

The Commonwealth Games are of major importance to the Commonwealth of Nations and to Canada. Hear from two of Canada's leaders about the Commonwealth Games. Please click here for more information.

September: RCS Branch, Vancouver Island presented local writer and sports commentator, Cleve Dheensaw, who gave a extensive report on the Commonwealth Games. In more than 3 decades of writing about Island athletes, Cleve has covered both the 1996 Atlanta, and 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics. He has covered 5 Commonwealth Games, from Auckland in 1990, to the recently concluded 2014 Games in Glasgow, Scotland. He is also the author of 5 books about the Summer Olympics, Commonwealth Games, B.C. Lacrosse, and the history of sport on Vancouver Island. His latest book is about  Simon Whitfield.

NSCF May14May 2014, RCS Ottowa 80 high school students and 30 Planning team members from across Canada will come together in the nations capital for the RCS Ottawa's National Student Commonwealth Forum (NSCF). In it's 42nd year, NSCF provides delegates with an opportunity of a life time to debate in Canada's Senate, meet with High Commissioners, hold a model CHOGM, learn about the Commonwealth and its values, and create lasting friendships. Further information is available at NSCF

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