Launched in 2021, the Edith Baxter Memorial Award recognizes an outstanding community leader who uses their influence to elevate Destination Jamaica within Canada. The award is presented on a biennial basis and is administered by the Jamaica Tourist Board and the Baxter family.
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 will not be eligible for the Edith Baxter Memorial Award.
The Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) is pleased to announce the five finalists for the inaugural Edith Baxter Memorial Award. In keeping with the spirit of the award’s namesake, the five nominees were selected based on their commitment to enhancing Jamaica’s tourism product and their dedication to advocating for Jamaican culture within Canada. Finalists will be honoured during a special Edith Baxter Memorial Award luncheon in Toronto on Thursday, September 30.
A long-time community activist, Mary has spent her life championing Jamaican culture. When Mary moved to Milton in 1974, she established a Jamaican booth at the annual Milton Festival of Countries designed to showcase the island’s distinct food, reggae music, and vibrant culture. She went on to become the first black person appointed to Milton town council in 1989 and ran several small businesses in the area, including a Jamaica-themed gourmet gift basket service that introduced Caribbean products to the greater Toronto community. As a dedicated philanthropist, Mary has hosted numerous Jamaica Night Fundraising events over the years and has raised tens of thousands of dollars to build the Milton leisure centre, fund repairs for Jamaica’s Princess Margaret Hospital in St. Thomas parish following a devastating hurricane, and to purchase for ultrasound equipment for May Pen Hospital and the Jamaica Cancer society through the Daphne DaCosta Foundation.
Natasha is frequently described by her peers and colleagues as a walking billboard for Jamaica. As president and CEO of marketing and events agency at the It Factor Ltd., Natasha plays a significant role in spotlighting Jamaican culture in Toronto through her business endeavours, countless volunteer hours, and expertise supporting the Helping Hands Jamaica Foundation (HHJF) towards creating a world-class education system in Jamaica. Natasha has been a leading member of the HHJF team since 2015 and has organized numerous fundraising programs and events in Canada, including the annual Jam-walk 5k Walk & Brunch and the Jamrock Gala in Toronto. Along with her small team, Natasha has managed and participated in approximately a dozen school builds on the island and is currently involved in developing the new HHJF Path to Education Program supporting children in a more direct way, including a mentorship platform between youth in Canada and Jamaica.
A consummate travel professional and humanitarian, Fiona promotes Jamaica professionally and personally by synthesizing her firsthand knowledge of the tourist industry and memories of her happiest days growing up on the island. Fiona has served as Membership Manager, Western Canada, Ontario & Atlantic for the Association of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA) since 2009 and has been actively involved with the retail travel community. She demonstrates a strong passion for the industry and Destination Jamaica, and she is also one of the co-founders of non-profit group Giving Jamaica Chances, which helps to support education for disadvantaged youth in Jamaica.
Commonly known as “Mr. Jamaica” among his tourism colleagues, Wayne demonstrates an enduring enthusiasm for Jamaica that has helped bring Canadians to the island for over 20 years. As a long-time Product Director for the Caribbean since 2001, Wayne has been a key player in expanding the My Travel/Thomas Cook UK (Sunquest/TravelBrands) portfolio of Jamaican properties within Canada. He opened new ground in the market and leveraged his industry relationships to support and grow business in all levels of hotels, from budget up to luxury, and is currently involved in the villa market. In 2005, the Governor General of Jamaica presented him with the prestigious Blue Mountain Award for his contributions to the growth and development of tourism in Jamaica.
As President of the Jamaican Canadian Association Alberta (JCAA), Donnovan uses his strong leadership skills to promote Jamaica’s tourism sector, broaden awareness of Jamaica as a tourist destination, and to spotlight Jamaican culture in Calgary and beyond. He has exposed Albertans to the distinct culture, music and cuisine of the island through the JCAA’s annual Taste of Jamaica cultural showcase. He has been a major collaborator in providing promotional all-expenses-paid vacations to Calgarians, giving them the opportunity to experience Jamaica first-hand. Donnovan also currently hosts a weekly Facebook live event titled “What a Gwaan” where he has featured Jamaican panelists who expose viewers to Jamaican culture and encourage travel to the island.
The winner and a guest will enjoy a five-night Luxury Included® Vacation in Jamaica courtesy of Sandals Resorts with round-trip airfare to the destination provided by Air Canada Vacations.
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.
Sandra WhitingStoryteller and event host
A prominent storyteller and event host, Sandra Whiting has been working in Toronto’s African Canadian community for many years. As a well-known M.C and speaker, she has been featured on radio and television, spoken at hundreds of schools to thousands of children, and has shared her tales at libraries, community events and prisons. Whiting previously served as President and Board Member for The Black Business & Professional Association and is now the Vice President of Culchaworks Arts Collective in Toronto. As part of her ongoing volunteer work, Whiting Chaired the Jamaican Canadian Association’s Walk Good Walkathon, Chaired the Women of Distinction Awards at the YWCA, and was Past President of PACE Canada, an organization supporting Early Childhood Education projects in Jamaica and Canada. Her numerous awards and accolades include the Harry Jerome Award for Community Leadership, the JCA Community Award, Pace Canada Pacesetter Award, and The OBHS Rose Fortune Award.