Citizenship Judge (Retired) / Artist, Court of Canadian Citizenship, Oakville, ON. Born: Jamaica.
Dr. Pamela Appelt was born in St. Mary, Jamaica, and attended high school and college at West Indies College in Mandeville, Manchester. She studied Microbiology and Biochemistry in London, England and came to Canada in 1966, where she worked as a researcher in medical biochemistry at McGill University for several years.
In 1987, Pamela was the first female Afro-Canadian to serve as a judge of the Court of Canadian Citizenship. She served in this capacity for 11 years, after which, she retired to pursue other interests. The major themes in her life are helping children and families live a better life and she fulfills that passion as a member of the Speakers Bureau of Ontario; regularly speaking to groups, schools and organizations regarding religious human rights, violence against women and children, and issues that affect immigrants and visible minority women. Her knowledge in the area of religious human rights has lead to speaking engagements in Germany and France.
She was appointed by the Province of Ontario as an adjudicator with the Custody Review Board and the Child and Family Services Review Board, whose mandate is negotiation and dispute resolution for Young Offenders; she served there for five years. The Board offers young offenders a vehicle through which their concerns can be considered. Consequently, the young offenders realize that they can be heard, even if the entire system is not altered to suit them individually. Pamela considers herself very fortunate to be given the opportunity to make a difference in our society, and believes that the community needs role models to help our young people reach their full potential. Her exposure and involvement in the wider community has sharpened her tools so that she can be of assistance to the less fortunate, and most importantly to individuals who are marginalized.
She is also an accomplished artist whose works have been exhibited in New York, Chicago, Jamaica and Canada.
Honours: Recognized for her outstanding achievements by Athena, Oakville (2002); one of four outstanding Canadians for the official Black History Month poster (2005); inclusion in Who’s Who in Black Canada 2; appointed to the Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security Review Tribunal in 2007, where she still serves; honoured by the Government of Jamaica with the Order of Distinction in the rank of Officer for dedicated service to Jamaica and the Jamaican Diaspora in Canada (2008)
Community: Pamela has been active in a number of community and national organizations ever since her arrival in Canada including, the Christian Women’s Club; the Ontario Black History Society; the former Clarke Institute of Psychiatry, York University; and the Canadian Multiculturalism Council. She is a founding member of the Black Business and Professional Association; the Harry Jerome Awards and Scholarship Fund; former member of the Board of United Way of Greater Toronto; the Community Foundation of Oakville; the Healthy Community Funders of Halton; advisor to the President of Northern Caribbean University; patron for PACE (Project for Advancement of Childhood Education) in Jamaica and Canada; the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development; and the Harmony Movement of Canada. She is a founding member of the Black-Jewish dialogue of B’Nai Brith Canada; a member of the Board of the Yee Hong Geriatric Centre in Scarborough; advisory board member of the Institute of Public Policy and Religion in Washington, D.C.; member of the Speakers Bureau of Ontario; Director of Harbourfront Corporation in Toronto; member of the Council of the Institute of Jamaica (since 2009), and now co-chairs the committee for the 50th Anniversary Celebration of Jamaica’s Independence in Canada. She also currently serves as the vice-chair of the Harbourfront Centre Board.
Education: Master’s degree, Public Policy, Concordia University; honourary Doctorate of Laws, Northern Caribbean University (2002).
Favourite book? Think Big by Ben Carson. The philosophies on living which this author spells out are truly reflective of my own: talent; hope; insight; be nice to all people; recognize knowledge as the key to living; read books actively; develop in-depth learning skills; and never get too big to give God thanks.
Favourite quote? “For I know the thoughts I think toward you, thoughts of peace, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” Jer. 29:11
Given the chance, what would you love to do that you haven’t done yet? I would love to conduct a choir.
What inspires you? I am inspired by the creativity of artists, the spoken word, and the ability of individuals to go beyond themselves to be of service to others.
Why do you do what you do? I do what I do because I believe that each individual has a responsibility to reach out and make a difference in the lives of others, and in the community.