Written by: Ron Fanfair (ShareNews)
Hamlin Grange CM, DiversiPro’s Founder and Principal Consultant has been appointed a Member of the Order of Canada. This honour reflects the positive impact that Grange has had on Canadian society since he moved to the country from Jamaica at age 10.
One of 99 new members to an Order with a membership of around 4,000, Grange earned his spot through his pioneering work in diversity and inclusion while being a passionate change agent for social justice.
Grange said the trail he blazed wouldn’t have been possible if not for the giants on whose shoulders he stands. “I think of people like Stan Grizzle, Bromley Armstrong, Dr. Wilson Head, and Al Mercury who did a lot to uplift our community and were the targets of a lot of the slings and arrows that many of us don’t have to go through.”
In 1968 he was elected to be the first Black student council president of Central Tech. The impact he had on the school was felt immediately. Robert Longworth, the student council staff advisor at the time, said “his election victory was the result of his developing skills and maturity and the inclusive nature of the student body. These were challenging times as the provincial government had brought in budget cuts to education that resulted in, among other things, larger class sizes. Extracurricular activities across the board ceased, with one exception. Hamlin convinced then principal Milt Christmas to allow the student council, under his direction, to continue some activities. Dances were held after school and other groups, such as the track team, continued to train. Central Tech was unique.”
Grange addressed the city’s student body at rally in Nathan Phillips Square. “He challenged members of the press to visit schools and see for themselves how the budget cuts had affected the classes,” added Longworth, a close friend of Grange’s. “It was a barnburner of a speech. It was the largest student protest the city had seen and he was a key organizer. In an unprecedented move, he and his fellow student council presidents were invited to meet with then education minister Tom Wells to discuss the ongoing dispute.”
“Hamlin was the right person in the right place at the right time. He learned lessons in leadership that can’t be taught in the classroom.”
Grange received a track scholarship to the University of Colorado after setting the Canadian junior 400-metre hurdles record and nearly qualifying for the 1976 Olympics.
While back in Toronto on Christmas break, he met his wife Cynthia Reyes with whom he has two daughters and a grandchild. She was one of the first Black female on-air personalities in Toronto and one of the youngest executive producers. Reyes co-led a team of Canadian consultants working with the South Africa Broadcast Corporation to become a public broadcaster in the wake of apartheid. Grange says Reyes deserves to share his honour given her work to promote their shared vision of a society.
Reyes created Innoversity with Grange in 2001 and they subsequently co-founded DiversiPro together.
“We recently launched a new learning platform around diversity, inclusion, equity, and anti-racism and we are developing online learning products” said Grange. “Our big project is to build a company and at some point, leave a legacy behind. I am also helping to raise my three-year-old granddaughter which is a big and important project.”
Hamlin started his professional journey with the Rocky Mountain News in Denver before becoming a reporter, news anchor, host, municipal affairs specialist, news documentary reporter, and senior producer with Canadian news organizations such as the Toronto Star, Global TV, and CBC TV. He also hosted Newsworld, TVO’s ‘Workweek’, and the CBC’s ‘More to the Story’.
“Hamlin’s impressive background as a television host and producer has informed the mentorship and development of so many of us who identify as racialized journalists” the Brenda & David McLean Chair of Canadian Studies Dr. Minelle Mahtani said. “He has provided key support and insight into the profound shifts that media organizations need to make in order to create more inclusive and accessible newsrooms and he has taken on the gargantuan task with great generosity of spirit.”
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