For over 44 years, since migrating from Guyana, Ned Blair has dedicated his life to volunteerism and community building.
His abundance of energy and strong motivation, coupled with effective communication skills and a sincere interest in people’s welfare, have earned him the respect of his peers and the community, at large.
Through his efforts, many people have received new trust, and hope that allows them to become more effective in their lives, thus establishing themselves as good citizens of Canada.
One of his most significant accomplishments is the establishment of the Organization of Black Tradesmen and Tradeswomen of Ontario (OBTTO). It solicited government funding to train black youth in the skilled apprentice trades.
As a result, many young men and women, who were abandoned by the educational system, are now gainfully employed as apprentices and trades people in the construction industry.
The Ministry of Skills Development subsequently introduced a very successful apprenticeship program in the secondary school system that was based on the principles of OBTTO.
Blair still serves as president of the organization and, to date, over 800 youth have benefited from the program. The project was later expanded to include other kinds of industrial training, especially tool and die, electrical and motor mechanics.
After successful treatment for prostate cancer, the tall, gentle philanthropist formed the African Caribbean Cancer Forum in 1999 and organized an awareness session, annually, for minorities, with assistance from the Canadian Cancer Society, and speaking participation from experts at Princess Margaret and Sunnybrook Cancer Centers.
Blair initiated the first flag raising ceremony at City Hall in 1992 to celebrate Guyana’s Independence anniversary, as well as the first Independence anniversary ecumenical church service and cultural presentation.
He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Anthurium Foundation Award for Cancer Awareness; the Harry Jerome Award for Community Service; the Lions Award for Lion of the Year, Father of the Year, and the President’s Award; and the Guyana Award for Community Service.
Among the organizations Blair has founded and chaired are: Organization of Black Tradesmen and Tradeswomen of Ontario; African Caribbean Cancer Forum; Alliance of Guyanese Canadian Organizations; Guyana Essequibo Association #1 and #2; Guyana Hopetown Association; Guyana Berbice Association Health Care Committee; and the Guyana Sick Kids Foundation, which brought children from Guyana for specialized treatment at the Sick Kids Hospital
“I love serving my community. I approach this task with a sense of optimism and a passion for success. I rarely fail,” says Blair.