Flo’s Seniors honours for Yomi Pratt, Marlene Hyppolyte and Jennifer Dennis
Saturday 27 August, 2022
Over 200 guests were at the Banquet Centre on Prince of Wales Drive to witness the presentation of the prestigious Flo’s Seniors Community Builder awards to three of Ottawa’s iconic social justice advocates and community leaders: Yomi Pratt, Marlene Hyppolite and Jennifer Dennis. The event was ably guided by veteran MC Renford Thomas Jnr a.k.a Bojangles, with DJ David Supersound providing pulsating music in the background. Highlights of the evening were the moving tributes to Marlene Hyppolite by her husband, daughter and grandchildren; tribute to Jennifer Dennis by her daughter; tributes to Yomi Pratt by his wife Kelly and long time friend Sarah Onyango, and a letter testimonial from Yomi’s former pupil, Erica Tracy; and finally a stirring spoken-word poetry tribute to all three award recipients by Rachelle Sutherland. Kudos to Flo’s Seniors’ Director Joanne Robinson for a most entertaining evening.
Profiles of the award winners
Moses Abayomi Pratt
Mr. Moses Abayomi Pratt was born in Lagos, Nigeria and moved to Ottawa, Canada in 1979 to further his post-secondary education in Mechanical Engineering and Educational Administration.
Mr. Pratt completed his Diploma in Mechanical Engineering at Algonquin College in Ottawa, Ontario and his Bachelor’s degree from the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton, New Brunswick. For his teaching career, he completed his Bachelor’s of Education at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario and holds a Master’s degree in Educational Administration from the University of Ottawa. Prior to his retirement, Moses was an educator for nearly 30 years.
Ten years ago, Moses and Kelly established the Ottawa’s Global Community Alliance’s annual Black History Month gala. The gala celebrates diversity in Ottawa by honouring leaders and trailblazers in Ottawa’s black community. By donating its proceeds to other causes such as the Ottawa School Breakfast program or Ottawa Black History, the gala provides key additional support in Ottawa’s multicultural communities.
Moses Pratt is a founding member of the Nigerian Canadian Association and Isokan Yoruba, a Nigerian cultural and heritage group.
Moses and his wife Kelly have supported and participated in many community initiatives and they continue to give of their time and resources to make a difference in the community.
In October 2019 – Mayor Jim Watson, Orléans Ward Councillor Matthew Luloff and Cumberland Ward Councillor Stephen Blais presented the Mayor’s City Builder Award to Moses Abayomi Pratt and Kelly Dikeledi Pratt for their years of service to Ottawa’s black community.
In addition, He remains an active member and one of the Ushers at the Divine Infant Catholic Church in Orleans.
In closing and on the lighter side of life, Mr. Pratt is a sociable person and enjoys attending community events with his family, especially cultural activities. He also takes pleasure in cooking, listening to music, discussing current issues in education, world politics and/or economy and travelling with his family.
Marlène Chouloute-Hyppolite is the president of GRAHN, Ottawa-Gatineau. GRAHN (Groupe de Réflexion et d’Action pour une Haïti Nouvelle) was created after the 2010 earthquake in Haïti. Presently, GRAHN has a University online, ISTEAH, (Institut de Sciences et de Technologie Appliquées d’Haïti) for post graduate students and is building an elementary school at Milot in the northern part of Haïti.
Marlene is one of the co-writers of the book: Immigration Haïtienne et Choc Culturel: Informer pour Transformer (2016).
In 2008, RAF (Regroupement Affaires Femmes) awarded her the Prix Diamant for outstanding woman of the year. In 2016, she won the Prix du Drapeau d’Haïti for her positive contribution to the youth of the Haïtian community in Ottawa.
Marlene taught in the French Immersion program at Manotick Public School. When she retired in 2013, the staff created an award for excellence in Arts, which bears her name. Every year, she proudly presents it to the winner.
Although Marlene has retired from active teaching, her love for this profession has not ended. As the co-founder of Samedi Littéraire Haïtiano-Canadien in 2002, she continues her adventure in the field of education in different ways, in particular by promoting excellence in education and the teaching of music. Moreover, she participates very actively in programs that support families in raising their children in our community.
For the past 17 years, Marlene has worked very actively with Samedi Littéraire in giving scholarships to students who have completed their High School diploma. In order to benefit from this scholarship program, the students must excel in science or math, and demonstrate their leadership in their school. They must also be willing to pursue their education at a post secondary institution.
She isa member of the steering committee for One Vision One Voice, a group funded by the Ontario Ministry of Children to facilitate the development of a Practice Framework to support child welfare agencies in providing better service to African Canadian children, youth and families. Her participation in that steering committee was noted as she showed tremendous commitment and leadership. Marlene is also a member of the advisory committee of SAE (Children’s Aid Society) for the Haïtian community.
After retirement, Marlene’s joy in teaching continues as she teaches music to her grandchildren and many other young members of the Haïtian community in Ottawa. At her École Haïtienne de Samedi Littéraire, her community school, she teaches recorder, choir, as well as basic elements of African cultural tradition through the Haïtian culture. Her main goal is to maintain the Afro-Haïtian tradition alive among our youngsters.
The accomplishments and community works of Marlène Chouloute-Hyppolite indeed demonstrate that she is a true community builder.
Jennifer Dennis was born in a small district in St. Elizabeth called Prosper Schoolfield in Jamaica. During her adolescent years, she had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with her grandmother, Lurline Strachan (otherwise known as Sister Lue).
While growing up, Sister Lue – a strong community pillar- taught Jennifer critical skills such as discipline, resourcefulness, business acumen and the importance of having a sense of humour. These skills serve Jennifer to this day.
The lessons did not stop there. Her mother, an exceptional seamstress, would bring Jennifer along to help her sell her mothers hand made clothes throughout the community and adjoining districts thereby helping Jennifer establish an understanding of the importance of building relationships within the community.
In 1969, Jennifer migrated to Canada from Jamaica by being sponsored by her late Aunt, Doris. While in Canada, she continued her education at the High School of Commerce and Algonquin College. She even continued her education during the 35 years that she worked for the federal government of Canada. All this hard work helped her to develop her ability to work and communicate in French.
Since arriving in Canada, Jennifer has been volunteering and continues to do so to this day. Jennifer has been volunteering for the Jamaican Ottawa Community Association for many years taking on activities positions such as secretary, vice president, committee chair, treasurer and working with seniors. In recognition of this support, the association has granted her a lifetime membership. She has also volunteered for the Institute for the Blind.
She is currently a member of the Gloucester Presbyterian Church where, for 4 years, she had taken care of babies in the nursery and still continues to carry out other duties assigned to her. She was recently recognized by the Ontario Multicultural Department for all of her volunteer work in the community.
With the impact of the pandemic, Jennifer and a few others realized that there was a need to bring people together safely. They have recently formed the Ottawa Social Village which is a group that connects virtually every two weeks. This activity enables the community to stay connected safely, to discuss various topics and to have fun.
Jennifer continues to live a fulfilling life through her volunteer activities, spending time with her family and through her other personal interests such as gardening.