Her warm smile which seems forever present is what draws you to her, at the first encounter. After that, it is her wit and her passion for not just sharing her experiences and aspirations with words, but also in practical tangible ways. In short, Saint Lucian born Karlyn Percil knows how to talk the talk, but can also walk the walk. And while she readily admitted to me that what she does, is her way of giving back to society and helping make the world a better place, her efforts, particularly in Canada have not gone unnoticed. She has been celebrated by many women’s groups and organizations promoting cultural and ethnic awareness and diversity.
Just last month, Karlyn Percil, who now resides in Toronto, Canada, was announced as one of the featured individuals on the annual Ontario Black History Month poster, which is truly a “big” thing in that city. The poster, which was unveiled during a special ceremony on Parliament Hill in the nation’s capital, highlighted leaders in Ontario’s black community who have made a major contribution to society. Percil told the STAR that she was nominated by a past recipient, Tanya Walker, and was pleasantly surprised at her inclusion.
“I mean, it was quite humbling and quite an honour to be up there with so many other community leaders of note,” she says. “This was something that I never dreamt of, something I never expected. But what is even more amazing is that this is something to inspire communities and young people, those in schools and various groups,” she expressed. The actual event was also very inspiring Percil told us.
“Inspiring because we got a chance to interact and share our experiences with the more than fifty kids who were present and they were not only black kids, but children from diverse backgrounds and ethnic groups,” she informed us.
Karlyn Percil who was formerly employed with Scotiabank Saint Lucia went to Canada in 2003 where she joined Scotiabank Canada. There she presently is part of the operations responsible for support of the operations for the collection units of 21 countries across the Caribbean and beyond. Her citation on the poster notes that Percil is the newly elected president of the Scotiabank Caribbean professional network, which is an employee resource group focusing on employee engagement and empowerment.
Her formation of her Belle Moun fashion line, donations of her proceeds to charities and also working with young people and at risk groups was also noted. Percil presently sits on the board of the Black Business and Professional Association as the chair of the prestigious BBPA Harry Gerome Awards.
The other four persons featured on the poster include Pauline Christian from Jamaica and George E Carter of Barbadian parentage. Christian is the founder of “Best lifestyle residence” and executive producer of the annual Martin Luther King Day celebrations and the annual choir-fest which raises funds for black scholarships. Carter who served in the Canadian army was a founding member of the Toronto black veterans.
Nana Kwarteng Boateng II chief of Jeduako-Kwamaan in the Ashanti region of Ghana who migrated to Canada in 1986 and Abdulrahman Bundu born in Sierra Leone and is now the President of the Sierra Leone Muslim Jamaat in Canada were the other poster recipients.
The theme for the 2011 Black History Month poster is, “Canada is Brighter, Stronger, and Better because of the contribution of the Black Community” and it was distributed to all schools, community centers and fire stations across the province.
Percil says she has always been committed to leaving a legacy for future generations, and to be involved with charitable initiatives and organizations that aim to promote diversity and empower individuals. “It is certainly an extra special feeling to be recognized by the black community,” she adds.
The concept for this annual poster was created by the City of Toronto, along with Dr Jean Augustine who is the first African Canadian woman to be elected to Canada’s National Parliament. Dr Jean was the one who introduced a motion, which was passed unanimously by the House of Commons to recognize Black History Month across Canada.
“With so many talented, creative and innovative individuals involved in this project who made a difference and is still making a difference, gives me hope that we can do more for our communities if we simply come together,” says Percil who one PR agent describes as “someone who continues to exemplify how to balance corporate success and community responsibility.”
Karlyn Percil told the STAR that her Bellemoun foundation is still very much on stream and she is just as passionate about the “Bellemoun Community Youth Network” which she formed as a way of energizing the youth of the Caribbean Diaspora to become more aware and to give back. “Not all of us can go back home and be there to do something physically as often as we would like, but there are little things we can do to give back to our island home and to contribute meaningfully.” Part of her “Beauty in diversity” campaign is to raise awareness that “we” are beautiful in our difference with the hope of changing negative perspectives on race culture, beauty and acceptance one picture at a time.
Percil has also organized various educational fundraising events for the Aids Action Foundation as well as events for the Children’s Orphanage here. In Toronto, she has worked with Impact Solutions on the Bell Celebrity Gala and The Niagara Wine Auction for the Sick Kids Foundation and has volunteered with the Black Business and Professional Association (BBPA) for over six years and has been the Chair for the BBPA Harry Jerome Awards for the past 4 years. “I am really looking forward to this year’s award ceremony which is the April 30 and I am just getting She also told us that she is looking forward to being here in Saint Lucia from May 1 where she will be a host of this year’s Saint Lucia Jazz.
“I am looking forward to being in Saint Lucia and since I will be there for Jazz I am hoping to also do some workshops with young people and visit a school or two,” Karlyn ended by saying in her usual effervescent tone.