Harry Jerome’s daughter desires famed sprinter’s title faraway from embattled charity’s awards

The daughter of famend Canadian sprinter Harry Jerome desires his title and likeness faraway from a Toronto charity’s annual awards — that are this weekend — till it’s cleared of alleged monetary mismanagement.

Debbie Smith, 61, despatched a cease-and-desist letter by way of her lawyer final week after studying concerning the alleged misappropriation of funds on the non-profit Black Enterprise and Skilled Affiliation (BBPA). This yr’s Harry Jerome Awards, which have fun achievement in Canada’s Black neighborhood, are set to happen on Saturday.

The allegations are “placing a black cloud over my dad’s title, which to me is unacceptable,” Smith advised CBC Toronto. 

“That breaks my coronary heart.”

Jerome grew to become the quickest man on the planet in July 1960 when he set a 100-metre world document in Saskatoon. Regardless of going through racism all through his life and profession, Jerome went on to set six extra world information, successful bronze within the 100-metre on the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, and gold at each the 1966 British Empire Video games and 1967 Pan American Video games.

He died in 1982 from a mind aneurysm at 42. Smith was an adolescent and mentioned, quickly after, she was approached by distinguished members of the neighborhood about honouring her father by naming an award after him. The BBPA was based the next yr, to deal with fairness and alternative for the Black neighborhood. 

Jerome’s daughter, Debbie Smith, has been concerned with the Harry Jerome Awards on and off since their inception greater than 40 years in the past. (Submitted by Debbie Smith)

“I’ve by no means made a dime off my father’s title,” Smith mentioned. 

“I’ve at all times used it, and let individuals use it, in good religion. This was a very good religion handshake 42 years in the past with a corporation.”

Smith says the BBPA has not responded to her letter.

In it, she calls for the group cease utilizing Jerome’s title and likeness normally and in connection to the awards till it has “addressed and rectified any and all confirmed cases of monetary mismanagement.”

The BBPA’s board of administrators didn’t reply to a number of requests for remark for this story. However in a letter emailed to its members on March 21, board chair Ross Cadastre denied allegations “concerning the misappropriation of funds.” 

CBC Toronto has seen each letters and one other — despatched to the board, from a lawyer on behalf of a bunch of BBPA members — detailing the allegations.

Olympians on podium with medals.
Jerome, proper, stands on the rostrum on the 1964 Tokyo Olympics after successful a bronze medal within the 100-metre. (Allsport Hulton/Getty Photos)

A kind of members, former donor Chandran Fernando, says the BBPA has a significant mission to empower Black entrepreneurs and professionals.

In a press release to CBC Toronto, Fernando says they petitioned the board to reveal paperwork mandatory for a third-party audit, however their requests haven’t been granted. 

“This group should uphold the very best requirements of transparency,” he mentioned. “Any misappropriated funds should be repaid and correctly redirected to help Black communities.”

In his letter to members, Cadastre mentioned the allegations had been taken severely by the board and led them “to evaluation the particulars with board administrators, our treasurer, our auditors and with our authorized counsel.”

The board “takes severely its duty to behave in the most effective pursuits of the group, and it categorically denies these allegations,” he wrote.

“The BBPA stays dedicated to transparency, accountability, and partnership with stakeholders like your self.” 

Smith hopes talking up will get outcomes as a result of she would not have the means to take the BBPA to courtroom for persevering with to make use of her father’s title.

“These two phrases should not go collectively — ‘Harry Jerome’ and ‘allegations,'” Smith mentioned.

Old photo of three men and young girl sitting on a couch.
Jerome, left, is pictured with Debbie. (Submitted by Debbie Smith)

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