By Michael L. Van Cooten
BRAMPTON, Ontario (Tuesday, December 8, 2020) — Denise Jones, 64, prominent entertainment and cultural promoter and entrepreneur — who was honoured for Excellence in Entertainment by the African Canadian Achievement Awards (ACAA), and in 2018, was named one of Canada’s 100 Accomplished Black Canadian Woman — has passed.
She “died at her Brampton home, surrounded by family, after a brain cancer diagnoses last year”, according to a report in the Toronto Star newspaper.
Jones — President and Co-Founder of Jones & Jones Productions with husband, Allan Jones — spearheaded the popular and hugely-successful annual, Canadian, summer, reggae music festival, Jambana, which was recognized and honoured as one of the Top 100 Festivals, by the Festival and Events Ontario Annual Conference, in 2019.
The Black Business and Professional Association (BBPA) mourned the loss of “one of Canada best cultural ambassadors”, eulogising Jones fondly, as being “in a class by herself, a woman of excellence, with a passion for music and the arts”, whose “contribution to promoting Reggae music in Canada is notable”.
“Denise made a concerted effort to highlight our community’s talent, not only to promote Reggae music, but with creating access for artists and groups to showcase their talent in Canada,” the BBPA said, in its most recent e-newsletter.
In 2014, the venerable Association honoured Jones, who had been a member for several years, with its Harry Jerome Award in the Category of Entertainment.
On Twitter, Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, memorialised Jones as an “incredible advocate for Black and Caribbean arts and culture”, who “contributed so much to our country.
“Sophie and I join members of the Jamaican-Canadian community, who are mourning her passing, and we send our deepest condolences to her family and friends.”
Outspoken, energetic, laser-focused and indefatigable, Jones served in several executive capacities: founding Chair of the Reggae Category of the JUNO Awards; Vice-president, Education and Marketing of the Canadian Association Of Special Event Planners (CanSPEP); and the first African Canadian to sit on the Brampton Board of Trade (BBOT), where she served on its Board of Directors for two terms, was involved with its Ladies on the Links golf tournament and sat on the Membership and Diversity committees.
Born on April 23, 1956, and raised in Port Antonio, in east Jamaica, where she attended Titchfield High School, Jones was commemorated in a tribute letter, from her homeland’s Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Olivia Grange.
“On behalf of the government and the people of Jamaica, I extend love and prayers to her family and the Jamaican Diaspora in Canada, who continue to mourn her loss, but celebrate her memory and legacy,” wrote Grange.
Passionately proud of her Jamaican roots, Jones was a member of Jamaica Diaspora Canada Foundation, and sat on the Board of Directors of Helping Hands Jamaica Foundation of Canada, where she helped raised significant funds for education in Jamaica.