OUR STORY - TURNING INTEREST INTO ACTION
The idea to create the Toronto Alumni Association of St. Rose's began in 1981 when, past pupil, Karen (Wilkinson) Gaskin (deceased) had a chance encounter with Sr. Hazel Campayne, former Headmistress of St. Rose's High School in Georgetown, Guyana. Initially, Karen expressed her wishes to form a group which would provide some measure of support for past students who were facing many challenges living in Canada. Karen's continual conversations, which envisioned the formation of an association of past students in Canada, had such an impact on Sr. Hazel that it led Sister to pledge her support and assistance. For the next several years, Sr. Hazel made her home available where meetings were held to formulate plans.
In 1984, Sr. Hazel arranged to hold the first gathering of past pupils at St. Joseph's College School on Wellesley Street. On the record as the pioneer group who undertook to commit to work towards the formation of an association were: Karen (Wilkinson) Gaskin and Sr. Hazel, Sandra (Meikle) Chan, Marilyn (Correia) Chee-A-Tow, Berenice Campayne (deceased), Enid Coehlo, Valerie (Jardine) Da Silva, Waveney (Campayne) Duarte, Olive Gonsalves, Beverley Ann (Rowe) Jones, Claire Katchay, Terry Kim Katchay, Pansy Lee, Penny Lee, Monica (Munro) Melynk, Shireen McDoom, Sandra Miller, Shaaron (Pollard) Rohlehr, Tessa (Correia) Toner and Suzette Zaum. Joining this group were Sandra (Rodrigues) Henriques and Pamela Persaud who came from New York (the formation of such an association in the United States was also being considered).
In 1985, the group had expanded and they met again at St. Joseph's College School. Led by Karen, Sandra and Tita (Ford) DeMattos, they discussed more concrete plans to set up a Canadian chapter of the Association, to be known as the St. Rose's Past Pupils' Association in Canada.
In 1986, on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the St. Rose's Old Girls' Association in Georgetown, Guyana (now known as the Guyana Chapter), a congratulatory message was sent, signed by a newly constituted Ad Hoc Steering Committee, comprising Sandra (Meikle) Chan, who was the Co-Ordinator, Judy (Vanier) Cumberbatch, Tita (Ford) DeMattos, Waveney (Campayne) Duarte, Jivanne Foster, Karen (Wilkinson) Gaskin, Reina Gibbs, Marie Therese DeGroot, May Paula Mendoca, Kim Taitt and Laura (Gibbs) Willems. It is to be noted that Sandra did a lot of co-ordinating in the early years.
On May 31, 1987, the St. Rose's Past Pupils' Association (Canada) was formally established at a much larger meeting, held in the auditorium of St. Barnabas Anglican Church on Danforth Avenue. This decision was taken after tabulating the responses to a questionnaire which was handed out. Close to one hundred people, including a few former teachers, were in attendance. Focusing on "SERVIAM"--- the school motto.
The objectives of the Association were defined, which were, to provide assistance to St. Rose's High School in Guyana and to other needy cases; to send food packages to the support Staff who had given long and faithful service to the School; to assist in providing much needed supplies of books for present pupils; and to hold a dance to raise funds for these and other projects.
Joan DeBarros, who had brought quite a number of people to meetings, used her credit card whenever deposits for bookings had to be made for which she was reimbursed. She went on to play a very supportive role until her resignation in 1990.
Eventually, it was decided to invite others to take over the leadership of the Association, and the following volunteered to form the new Steering Committee, headed by Waveney as the Co-ordinator---Elizabeth (Zitman) Abdool, Joan (da Silva) de Barros, Berenice Campayne, Doreen (Teixiera) D'Andrade, Jivanne Foster, Mary Ann (da Silva) Seide, and Elizabeth (Gobin) Solomon. During this term, other Alumni members volunteered to serve on newly established sub-committees such as Co-Ordinating, Social and Fund Raising, Telephone and Newsletter.
The Charade Restaurant in Scarborough was the venue for the first ever Reunion Brunch held in May 1988. There was not enough room for everyone as the attendance was much larger due in thanks to the many phone calls made by Elizabeth (Gobin) Solomon. Thus, the tradition of Annual Reunion Brunches began; meetings took place twice at the C.N.E. Bandshell (in 1989 over 200 people attended). There were other locations, notably at Edwards Gardens, and in later years to the present time at The Latvian Canadian Cultural Centre.
In 1990, the organization continued to grow and a lot is owed to Elizabeth (Gobin) Solomon for calling around all over the globe and for finding places to hold meetings. In that same year, Waveney resigned as Co-ordinator to pursue Post Graduate studies as well as Joan, Doreen and Elizabeth. A deep appreciation for their untiring contribution to the Association was expressed.
A new committee, comprising Audrey Covassi, Berenice Campayne, Olive Chabrol, Gail Francisco, Sandra Gittens, Pixie Gomes.