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Gala to celebrate Bermuda Canadian association's 30th anniversary

Joan Butterfield

Scores of locals will be jetting off to Toronto during the next few days to join their compatriots at a gala celebration of the 30-year-old Bermuda Canadian Relief Association, Inc. (BCRA),The idea for this organisation flowed from a chance meeting of three Bermudian educators, Cynthia Swan, Elodie Olden and Josephine Woodley, who had settled in Toronto. They were unwinding after participating in the grand 1981 Caribana parade and festival.While admiring the cultural contributions by representatives of various Caribbean organisations they realised that with the many Bermudians settled there, they were conspicuous by their non-involvement.As one of the founders said later: “We three ‘Onions' as we called ourselves decided that it was time to invite other Bermudians to support and develop a Bermudian association. A date was set and it was agreed we would seek out interested friends, forming the Bermuda Social Club. The club has had many name changes since then, each one embodying the broader impact of the Canadian ‘Onions.'According to Thea Adams, one of the BCRA executives planning next week's gala at the Delta East Hotel, aside from the dining and dancing, there will be a salutation to Somerset-born Joan Harvey Butterfield for her work as a practising artist for more than 25 years. There will also be presentation of bursaries to for students.Ms Adams noted that one of the first social events of the mushrooming BCRA was a Guy Fawkes party held in November 1981.The Guy Fawkes party became an annual celebration held at hotels around the Toronto area with many Bermudians travelling from other Canadian cities, the United States and Bermuda to join in the celebration. Other events included kite flying on Good Friday, a fund-raising barbecue in August as well as various dinner theatre outings.“The focus of the organisation changed to one of fund-raising starting in 1991, enabling the award annually of bursaries to deserving students.“There was another name change in 2000 to the Canadian Bermudian Association to embody our many Canadian friends and supporters.“In 2003, we changed the name of the organisation to its present, Bermudian Canadian Relief Association Inc. when they achieved their charitable organisation status which has allowed us to increase our focus on fund-raising to meet our aims and objectives. Prime objectives include giving of financial assistance annually in the form of a bursary to deserving students in order to further their education.“Also to act as a contact among Bermudians who reside in Canada, in their ancestral home and other places; and to co-operate with other individuals and groups with similar aims and objectives.Joan Butterfield has gained eminence in North American art circles through having produced and sold more than 7,000 works that can be found in both private and corporate collections, museums, universities, hospitals, libraries and city hall the world over.The eldest daughter of the late Lloyd Harvey and wife Ruby of Somerset, Joan is a first cousin to well-known Bermudian artist Robert Bassett; and to Barbra Bassett, head of the art department at Sandys Secondary School.Joan has participated and exhibited in more than 200 solo and group exhibitions in the US and Canada.She is Art Director of African Canadian Artists, the largest Canadian art organisation dedicated to the support, development and sharing of original works of art produced by artists of African-Canadian heritage.Joan was also creator, producer and curator of the critically-acclaimed COLOURblind travelling art exhibit that kicks off during Black History Month and for the past 14 years has been showcased in corporate and public spaces throughout the Greater Toronto Area and beyond.Joan is the wife of Sheridan Butterfield, the eldest son of the late AME Presiding Elder Rev. Dr. Cyril Butterfield and his wife.She is mother of three children, two of whom live and work in Bermuda. They are Doyle Butterfield, who is busy planning for the projected Oxford Learning Franchise in the Brangman Building in King and Reid Streets; daughter Sherri Butterfield, who is a nurse at the Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute in Devonshire; and son Theron, who works for the government in Toronto.To say the least, Joan is a busy, highly productive woman. She is author of the book 'Starving Artist Guide to Riches', and has published hundreds of articles on art.Joan is also Curator of the annual art exhibit for the Scotiabank Caribana Festival, and serves on the FMC board of directors.As a matter of fact, it was the Caribana Festival more than 30 years ago that sparked the interest of the three Bermudian educators Cynthia Swan, Elodie Olden and Josephine Woodley, who had settled in Toronto, in germinating the BCRA, that will so signally honour Joan next week.