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Volume No. 1 Issue No. 34 - Monday, December 30, 2002
PM CharlesWell Done Island Son
by: Gabriel Christian

As the shadows lengthened outside the Brampton City courthouse in Ontario Canada on the afternoon of December 3, 2002, a flood of guests streamed into the largest courtroom of the building to await a special moment: the formal investiture of the Honorable Justice Irving W. Andre.

The son of Ernest and Margaret Andre of Portsmouth, Andre was born in Curacao where his father served as a Laboratory technician for Shell Oil and his mother served with the Teitelbaum family as a baby sitter. He returned to Dominica in 1961, at age three, and graduated from the Dominica Grammar School and Sixth Form College.

During the 1970's he was involved in Dominica's independence movement as a member of the Popular Independence Committee affiliate, Cadre No. 1. After a brief stint doing postgraduate work in history at John Hopkins in Baltimore, Andre traveled to Canada to meet Dominican-born wife Kathy Bertrand, daughter of World War Two veteran Major Twistleton Bertrand, former commandant of the Dominica Defence Force.

They got married and now have two beautiful daughters, Melissa and Bianca. Prior to his appointment to the bench, Andre had distinguished himself as a trial lawyer in Ontario over a period of twelve years. A First Class Honours graduate in history and philosophy from the University of the West Indies and educated at Osgoode Hall Law School in Canada, Andre had served as an Assistant Crown Attorney for some time, before opening his own practice.

During that period Andre found time to serve in the leadership of local groups such as the Dominica Sisserou Club, United Achievers Club, Kiwanis and John Howard Society, while providing legal advice and guidance to a host of other community development organizations, and Pan Caribbean causes.

At 4:00 pm sharp the ceremony began with a filing-in of local judges and justices of the peace in their sober black robes, some with red and green sashes draped across their shoulders. Next to the judge's row, sat Mrs. Andre, tense with expectation but beaming with pride, alongside her daughters Melissa and Bianca.

Immediately behind, she was joined by his immediate family, to include, his parents Ernest and Margaret, and his siblings Lenny, Allan, Austin and Cecilia. The courtroom was filled by a rainbow nation of other friends and well-wishers: Dominicans, other Caribbean nationals, Chinese, Indians, Pakistanis, Irish, native-born Canadians and others, who had come to consider Andre one of their own.

irvingThe solemn ceremony, presided over by Chief Justice Brian Lennox and Regional Senior Justice Tim Culver was at times solemn, on occasion brimming with mirth, as in when Bar representative Tom Casey regaled the gathering with spicy tit-bits from Andre's latest Short Story collection, Tales from Hurontario High.

In attendance also were Peel's Police Deputy Chief Bertram, Minister of Health for Ontario, Tony Clement, Dominican born, Washington based attorney Gabriel Christian and his brother Dr. Samuel Christian, who had brought his son and father in law for the special occasion. During the investiture, Chief Justice Lennox praised Andre, stating "he has been through the most strict scrutiny, a human being can go through, and has been found well qualified."

He added, "Really, he has discovered the 30 hour day, considering that despite his community work, law practice and family life, he still finds time to write." Justice Lennox was making reference to Andre's leading role in the founding of Pond Casse Press, which has published nine works of literature and history since its founding in 1992.

His latest book, "In Search of Eden: Essays on Dominican History" , rolled off the University of Toronto Press during the same period his elevation to the bench was announced. It was fitting, considering his history of community activism, that Andre received the good news while in Dominica to launch the new publication, participate in a "Diaspora in the Development Process" Symposium organized by Rosie Douglas Foundation and the Dominica Academy of Arts and Sciences, while at the same time enjoying the island's independence anniversary celebrations.

After taking his oath to Queen Elizabeth (Canada is a monarchy), Andre gave a stirring speech, paying tribute to providence, his parents, family and friends. He promised loyalty to his duties and was inspiring to all to who heard him.

At the ceremony's end, there was much backslapping and "Howdy-Do's" as many Dominicans renewed old friendships and made new ones. And as the gathering emptied out into the snow flecked streets of Brampton Ontario, many must have felt the warmth of a Caribbean sunshine deep within, born of a steadfast pride that we can achieve, contribute to our adopted homelands, yet never forget from whence we came.

It is Andre's embrace of that philosophy of contribution and loyalty to his community, which makes his example soworthy of a: Well done, island son!!

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From the staff of The Dominican
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Volume No. 1 Issue No. 34
Dominica's Health Care Situation
Well Done Island Son
Search for Place in Mystic Masseur
Where Goes the New Year
Dominica's History Revisted

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