Presented on a biennial basis by the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) and Baxter family, the Edith Baxter Memorial Award recognizes an outstanding community leader who uses their influence to elevate Destination Jamaica within Canada.
ABOUT EDITH BAXTER, OD
As co-founder of Baxter Media and editor-in-chief of Canada’s most influential travel trade publication, Canadian Travel Press, Edith Baxter was a powerful voice within the Canadian travel industry for more than five decades. A passionate advocate for Destination Jamaica, Mrs. Baxter was awarded the Order of Distinction by the Government of Jamaica in 2009 in recognition of her contributions to the tourism industry.
Throughout her career, Mrs. Baxter played an important role in supporting and spotlighting Jamaica’s tourism product within the Canadian market and this memorial award honours both her legacy and her special connection to the island.
The Edith Baxter Memorial Award recognizes individuals who have made a substantial contribution towards the positive advancement of Jamaica’s tourism industry and/or Jamaican culture within Canada. Individuals working in the fields of tourism and hospitality, music, arts and culture, community activism, education, healthcare, athletics, communications and technology, and public service will be considered for the award.
- The Edith Baxter Memorial Award is open to individuals only. Groups, companies and organizations will not be eligible for consideration.
- Nominees must be Canadian citizens or permanent residents, aged 18 or older.
- Individuals can apply for the award themselves or nominate someone else for consideration.
- Individuals who are directly employed by the Jamaica Tourist Board or Baxter Media will not be eligible for the Edith Baxter Memorial Award.
Finalists for the 2023 Edith Baxter Memorial Award will be announced in August 2023. Each of the finalists will receive a prize certificate in honour of their nomination and will be recognized during the a special presentation ceremony in September 2023.
The grand prize will winner of the 2023 Edith Baxter Memorial Award will receive a five-night Luxury Included® Vacation in Jamaica for two from Sandals Resorts with round-trip airfare to the destination provided by Air Canada Vacations.
A longtime writer and photographer, Ron Fanfair’s contributions over the last 37 years to Share, Canada’s largest ethnic newspaper, and ronfanfair.com have allowed him to inform, educate and entertain a wide cross-section of readers. His reporting on local and international events provides readers with an immediate and deeper understanding of the significant issues impacting Canada’s ethnic communities, including the Jamaican diaspora. Fanfair is also a member of the University of the West Indies Toronto gala committee, which raises money to fund scholarships for students attending the Caribbean academic institution.
Dave McLaughlin is an internationally renowned saxophonist, recording artist and dedicated humanitarian who has performed for world leaders, celebrities and professional athletes. Driven by a strong belief in giving back, the Montego Bay native has supported academic scholarships for Canadian and Jamaican students through his fundraising concerts and CD sales. McLaughlin has also worked alongside Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake to raise funds for Jamaica’s hospitals to purchase much-needed medical supplies, including incubators and bedding.
For more than 13 years, Simone Jennifer Smith has been a prominent leader in a diverse cross-section of professional roles, including print media, creative design and social media, mental health, education and mentoring. She currently serves as a columnist, talk show host, operations manager, and chief correspondent at Carib101 Media Group. Smith also contributes to the African-Caribbean community in her role as project manager for the fundraising group Brothers Who Care, and as the founder of Hear 2 Help Inc., a community development company offering services that range from tutoring and adult learning to life coaching and business development.
A well-known storyteller and speaker, Sandra Whiting was born in Kingston, Jamaica and has been at the epicentre of activity and change in Toronto’s African Canadian community for many years. She has worked with The Black Business & Professional Association as President and Board member, served as past president of P.A.C.E. (Canada), chaired the Walk Good Walkathon at the Jamaican Canadian Association, and has contributed to many more organizations over the years as a Board member and/or volunteer. Whiting is currently the Vice President of Culchahworks, an organization supporting Toronto’s arts community. She also works with the Toronto Courts and the Immigration and Refugee Board as an interpreter of Jamaican patois.
Diana Winters has worked in the tourism industry for close to 30 years and demonstrates an unmatched passion for making travel dreams come true and giving back to communities in both Canada and Jamaica. She has been an unwavering advocate for Destination Jamaica throughout her career as a travel advisor and in her roles with tour operators and hoteliers. During her time at Palace Resorts, Diana discovered her philanthropical side while working with the company’s Fundación Palace Resorts program. Branching out on her own, Winters has undertaken numerous independent charitable initiatives to encourage support for the people of Jamaica. She has organized philanthropic trips for Canadian travel agents to build homes and schools on the island, raised funds for local medical clinics, and launched a donation drive during the pandemic to collect tablets, laptops and other education supplies.
Angella BennettRegional Director, Canada, JTB
With almost 30 years of travel industry experience, Angella Bennett brings an impressive level of knowledge and passion to her role as Regional Director of Tourism for Canada at the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB). Leading the tourism board’s national sales team, she works closely with industry partners and travel agents across the country to build relationships, provide educational resources on the destination, and drive year-round tourism to Jamaica. Originally from Montego Bay, Bennett has worked in hospitality sales and marketing positions across the globe in several international markets, the U.S., Europe, Latin America and her native Jamaica. Prior to joining the JTB, Bennett previously served as Director of Sales at RIU Hotels & Resorts, Jamaica overseeing sales and revenue management activities for 2,500 rooms across five resorts. During her 13-year tenure with the organization, she successfully opened five of the six RIU Hotels in Jamaica and most recently launched the opening of the Melia Braco Village hotel in Trelawny.
Wendy McClungExecutive VP, Baxter Media
Wendy leads Baxter Media, Canada's foremost travel industry media source with its long-standing print and digital publications, Canadian Travel Press, Travel Courier and OFFSHORE Travel Magazine. She has been captivated by the world of travel from a young age, touring the world with her parents, co-creators of Baxter Media. However, it was her mother who introduced her to the island of Jamaica, a special place that she has returned to for business and leisure countless times in her life. After graduating from Trent University, she began her career as a flight attendant for Transair where she learned the value of customer service. Concurrently, she joined the family business, combining her passions for the travel industry, family, publishing, and business into a successful career. With her dedicated team, she has spent decades building Baxter Media into the most trusted source of travel news and information in Canada today with a commitment to serving the travel agent community and outbound destinations such as Jamaica.
Lincoln G. DownerConsul-General, Consulate-General of Jamaica, Toronto
Mr. Lincoln George Downer is the Consul-General of Jamaica at Toronto, Canada. Mr. Downer is a global connector and change agent who has served as a career diplomat in Jamaica’s Foreign Service for over 25 years, He is passionate about community development, nation building and people connectivity. Mr. Downer has created and maintained strategic partnerships with multiple stakeholders in pursuit of Jamaica’s strategic interest and has been integral to the implementation of several ground-breaking initiatives by the Ministry for greater inclusion of the Jamaican Diaspora in nation building. These include the Mapping Jamaica’s Diaspora Project, and the establishment of the Global Jamaica Diaspora Council and the Global Jamaica Diaspora Youth Council. Mr. Downer is a graduate of the University of the West Indies, Mona and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations with a Minor in Spanish.
Kelly SchmittPresident, Spoiled Agent
With more than 30 years of experience working in the travel industry, Kelly Schmitt brings a vast knowledge of supplier needs and wants to her role as President of Spoiled Agent. Kelly began her career at Club Med as a G.O. working with properties across the globe. She later returned home to Toronto and joined Holiday House, first in the reservations department before moving into sales. Kelly later took on the role of National Sales Manager for AAT Kings (TravCorp). The Islands came calling again and she moved on to spend over a decade as the Sales Manager with SuperClubs. In 2009, Kelly and her partner Franca Floto launched Spoiled Agent, a centralized platform that allows travel advisors to access incentives and agent rates from a wide variety of suppliers. Kelly currently serves as the President and main contact for suppliers and travel agent partners. Kelly is married with two children and still loves to get away every chance she can get; travel is in her blood.