Scarborough Walk of Fame honours special achievements

by Ron Fanfair
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Vivian Rambihar with wife Perdita (left) and their daughters Vanessa, Sherryn and Nadira.

On their way to be inducted to the Scarborough Walk of Fame on April 10, brothers Stephan James and Shamier Anderson did a very cool thing.
Instead of riding in a limousine, the actors hopped on the 190 Scarborough Centre Rocket to the fourth-largest mall in the Greater Toronto Area.
For a few minutes, they relished reliving some of their childhood past riding the TTC to the Town Centre and other nearby venues.
“I took that bus every day from Bay Mills at Birchmount & Sheppard to either dance at Tropicana (Community Services), catch a movie at Famous Players with a sweeter thing (pretty girl) or grab a bite at my favourite Scarborough restaurant, Fredericks,” said Anderson who played Mr. Nobody in ‘John Wick: Chapter 4’. “Anybody that knows me knows I am a proud Scarborough boy at heart.”
Raised by a single mother with two other siblings at 365 Bay Mills Blvd, Apartment 207, James reflected on life growing up in Scarborough.
“Inside those four walls, my brother and I built the foundation that would define the rest of our lives,” the 30-year-old award-winning actor said. “My first memories of summertime were walks to ‘On the Run’ for our favourite slushies, trips to Agincourt Pool where the chlorine was way too harsh, playing basketball at Holy Spirit where I could hear my mom screaming, “Shamier, Stephan, Sheldon, come inside” and not to forget the rides on the 190 Rocket that brought us right here to Scarborough Town Centre.
“This mall was always seen as a bit of a getaway for us. You could see a movie, eat at Koya (a defunct Japanese restaurant in the mall) and even play a game or two in the arcade all for less than 20 bucks. Those were the good old days.”
James guest starred in the CBC television mini-series, ‘The Book of Negroes’, was cast as civil rights leader John Lewis in ‘Selma’ that received an Oscar nomination, won a Canadian Screen Award for Best Actor for his role as Jesse Owens in ‘Race’ and was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for portraying Walter Cruz in the Amazon series, ‘Homecoming’.
“I remember when Whitby felt like Beverley Hills,” he said. “I can now proudly say I have seen the real Beverley Hills and it is nice, but it is no Scarborough. The food, the culture, the vibes, how everything in life was seemingly set up to bring us down, but somehow we laughed at the pain and always found a way to prevail. It is that resilience that has taken us from Scarborough to the world.
“I could have walked this mall a thousand times and never noticed that standing on one of these stars literally meant I was standing on a pillar of my community. Today, I stand with my brother and be celebrated as a pillar myself.”
Conscious of supporting other artists as they ascend the ladder of success, James shouted out actors Lamar Johnson, Dewshane Williams and Shemar Charles, rapper Jimmy B, three-time Juno nominated hip hop artist & educator Keysha Freshh, writer Catherine Hernandez, whose debut novel, ‘Scarborough’ was published in 2017, and Degrassi star Jahmil French who passed away in March 2021.
Four years ago, the brothers created the Black Academy which is an extension of B.L.A.C.K (Building A Legacy in Acting, Cinema & Knowledge) which they started in 2016 to facilitate the development of young and emerging Black talent in the entertainment industry.
The Black Academy launched the Legacy Awards in 2022 which is an annual showcase recognizing Black Canadian talent and rising stars.
Since 2006, the Scarborough Walk of Fame has honoured inductees with permanent stars near the Food Court to form a footpath.
This year’s inductees also include Camesha Cox who launched The Reading Partnership 13 years ago, graphic artist Mark Stoddart, cardiologist Dr. Vivian Rambihar and Canadian men’s basketball team General Manager Rowan Barrett.
The latest recognition is a full-circle moment for Barrett who was raised in Scarborough near the Toronto Zoo.
He graduated from West Hill Collegiate Institute, secured a basketball scholarship to St. John’s University, captained Canada at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and was inducted into the Canadian Basketball Hall of Fame last year.
“I see people here that supported me all the way and I think it is poignant that this Scarborough Walk of Fame is powered by volunteers,” Barrett said. “My early life was powered by volunteers, whether it was playing for the Kingston Galloway Lancers or in my little community. Whatever I was doing, the people who coached me were all people who took time out of their day to volunteer.”
Because of those volunteers and mentors, he started the Canada Basketball Junior Academy program.
“It is for young men who sometimes just cannot get all the way through and end up falling by the wayside,” said Barrett. “I wanted to go in there in elementary school and get them. We did.”
Jamal Murray, who won a National Basketball Association title with the Denver Nuggets last year, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander of the Oklahoma City Thunder who co-led the league in steals and was third in scoring during the just concluded regular season, are products of the Junior Academy.
“That is important for me because I am looking at young men who are changing the trajectory of their families,” he said. “They are impacting their families and communities and inspiring people around the world. I am proud to be part of that. For every one of them in the NBA, there are 100 of them that did not make it.”
Barrett acknowledged his mother, an immigrant from Jamaica who worked two jobs to support her family, wife Kesha Duhaney and former Toronto Metropolitan University coach Richard Dean who was a member of the undefeated 1974 and 1975 George Brown College teams.
He coached the West Hill Collegiate side that included Barrett who played professionally for 12 years in Europe.
“There are many people that poured into me, but none more in my young life than Richard Dean,” he said. “So many of us have had productive lives because of his time and effort. He came into our home and told my mother he would not let me fail on his watch. He devised a plan to get me where I needed to go and helped me hone my skills. He promised my mom I would do my schoolwork.
“He took me to elementary schools when I was in high school to speak to kids, he helped me manage the expectations of being the number one player in Canada and the 65 scholarship offers that came from schools across North America. He protected me from all the adults that came, some with good intentions, some with bad. He always told me the truth without sugarcoating it. He did everything he told me and my mom and I accomplished all the things he said I would.
“Thank you, Coach.”
Hours after the formal ceremony and the hoopla subsided, Camesha Cox returned to the spot where her star is cemented.
“I just wanted to have a moment of quiet reflection,” she said. “While standing there, a woman came up to me, saying she had seen me on television receiving the honour. She also said she did not know any of the inductees, except me and was very proud of what I had done. That touched me and meant a lot.”
Starting with a $12,000 United Way Community Action Grant, Cox and two other young Scarborough high school graduates and educators piloted the first Reading Partnership for Parents in April 2012 to assist caregivers in the Kingston-Galloway/Orton Park community with helping children, between the ages of four and six, to read.
“We began with 12 parents, paying each of them $100 to commit to our 12-week play base program that promised to teach them how to teach their children to read,” The Reading Partnership’s executive director recounted. “We said we would and we did. Here we are over a decade later having served hundreds of families through the program not only here in Scarborough where it was incubated for many years, but across the Greater Toronto Area, in Ottawa and Nova Scotia with plans to expand nationally and globally.”
The volunteer-led initiative-turned-Canadian registered charity has nine full-time employees and an annual operating budget of over $1.8 million.
The Reading Partnership also offers 360-degree Stories and Kids ReadTO programs for pre-teens. The 360 Degrees initiative is a month-long virtual program for aspiring young authors to write, illustrate, edit and publish a story in an anthology and attend their official book launch.
Professional writers and illustrators lead weekly 75-minute workshops that give students the tools and one-on-one support to tell stories.
The works of close to 200 young authors between ages nine and 12 have been published through this initiative and over 600 kids connect online yearly through the virtual book clubs.
“These initiatives are impacting children and their families beyond the borders of our beautiful community, Scarborough, to the world,” added Cox. “For the last 12 years, we have been laser-focused on ensuring that amazing things happen for children and families in our community.”
Serving Scarborough as a cardiologist and community worker for more than four decades, Dr. Vivian Rambihar is recognized for his global contributions to medicine, science, society and humanity.
As a pioneer in the field of chaos and complexity science, he applies these ideas to medicine, proposing their use in solving complex work problems, including peace, health, development, poverty reduction and climate change.
The second of eight siblings (one is deceased) who received a Guyana scholarship in 1969, Rambihar has also led the way in diversity/ethnicity and health, developing innovative ideas for reducing obesity, diabetes and heart disease with a multi-level complexity, ‘Health in All Policies’ approach, including grassroots action and social change and social occasions for health.
He becomes very emotional when reflecting on the honour.
“I served this community for so many years and it is a blessing to help so many people,” said Rambihar who started practicing at Scarborough Health Network-General Hospital in 1980.
His three daughters have followed in his footsteps.
“I conscripted them at a young age and they worked in Scarborough doing health promotion,” added the 2012 Top 25 Canadian Immigrant honouree and 2017 University of the West Indies Toronto Benefit Vice-Chancellor Awards recipient.
Dr. Sherryn Rambihar is a staff cardiologist at Mackenzie Health and an adjunct assistant professor at the University of Toronto Department of Medicine; Dr. Nadira Rambihar is a psychiatrist and lecturer at U of T and Dr. Vanessa Rambihar is a family physician at Women’s College Hospital and an assistant professor and clinical teacher at U of T.
“We are very proud of our father,” said Vanessa Rambihar who won a Gordon Cressy Award for Student Leadership in 2012. “We spent many hours in his office assisting him and learning about the community. He is an inspiration for us.”
She and her father co-developed the Global Heart Hour, an innovative global movement bringing people together to inspire and sustain humanitarianism which was launched with U of T medical students in 2009.
Instead of watching the live stream from his residence in England, younger brother Dr. Brian Rambihar made the transatlantic flight to attend the ceremony.
“This is not only about recognition for the work Vivian has done as a doctor,” said the occupational health physician and medical educator. “It is about his community work that has spanned over four decades. That is very significant and I had to be here.”
To say that Mark Stoddart is ‘Scarborough to the bone’ is not an understatement. He still resides in the community where he was born and raised.
“I can’t go anywhere else,” said the co-designer of the Black Lives Matter tribute apparel worn by Toronto Raptors members. “There is something about the soul of Scarborough that fuels creativity.”
Being inducted with Barrett is special for Stoddart who graduated from Cedarbrae Collegiate Institute.
“We grew up together,” he said. “We played basketball and did a lot of things together. For us to be in this space now is heartwarming.”
Stoddart, whose art is part of Toronto Raptors President Masai Ujiri, film director Spike Lee and former Olympian John Carlos collections, broke the record for nominations honouring inductees with a star on the Walk of Fame.
“As I reflect now, all I can see is a young Black boy carrying a basketball in one hand and an art portfolio in the other, but never compromising his three ‘As’ – athletics, activism and art,” he said. “I understand what legacy is about and leaving a mark as you pass through this life. You have to understand those marks are your gift and that is what you have to leave with the world.”
Also inducted were former Scarborough Member of Parliament Pauline Browes, Marg Middleton who co-founded several Scarborough organizations, including the Scarborough Walk of Fame and Sam Ibrahim who is the President & Managing Director of Arrow Group of Companies that financially supports the Toronto Police Service 41 Division scholarship program.

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