Service continues to be central to Janice Farray’s life
Of the close to 50 years that she has been in Canada, she gave 43 of those years in service to McGill University, leaving a lasting impact on the many departments where she worked and on the thousands of colleagues and acquaintances that crossed her path over the decades.
And through it all, Janice never missed an opportunity to lend a helping hand in our community and whenever possible, serve as a bridge connecting individuals and institutions with the university.
Although her service to McGill formally ended with her retirement this past December, she carries with her a lifetime of memories to mark her contributions and achievements at the vaunted institution.
“After all my years at McGill, I think what I miss most is being in the thick of things at an institution that plays such a significant role in people’s lives and in our society,” Janice told the CONTACT. “At the same time, I celebrate the fact that I’ve been part of efforts to bring change to the university, especially when it comes to the Black presence on campus.”
Farray, who at retirement was the administrative officer at McGill’s Institute of Islamic Studies, talked about the many changes she has witnessed when it comes to diversity among students, faculty and the supporting workforce at the university.
“There was a time when there weren’t too many of us workers or students. I remember when mine was the only Black face at the convocations,” she mused. “That’s all changed and now there’re so many Black faces among students, faculty and staff, many in positions of significance. It might have taken long but things are changing at McGill as far as we’re concerned.”
As well, she says the recognition and celebration of Black contributions and history is growing across the university campus thanks to the efforts of a specially dedicated committee, which she has had an opportunity to work with and mentor some of the members.
But Farray says she is proudest of her own efforts in opening the doors to employment for many in our community, who have made good on opportunities to build rewarding careers at McGill.
As well, she remembers with equal pride her work in getting the McGill to award an honorary doctorate to The Honorable Jean Augustine in 2009 for her achievements and contributions to Canadian politics.
But 43 years after she entered the fabled Roddick gates of McGill University on July 23, 1979, fresh out of Vanier College to take a clerical job in the MBA department.
Along the way she boosted her academic standing with a BA in Human Resources Management from Concordia University in 1990 and continued to spread her acquired expertise in the various faculties at McGill including Management, Law, Arts, Engineering and Education, Management and Development and Human Resources.
And Farray leaves McGill as probably the longest serving Black person in a management or administrative position. She says the time was right for her to walk away last December.
She is moving on, she says because “ the inner compass” that has guided her throughout her life indicated to her “that the time was right.”
Plus the fact that she feels ready to continue building on some of the work she been doing in the community.
Always enthusiastic about reading and writing especially poetry, Farray says she is excited about the prospects of continuing to build on her body of work and is looking forward to publishing her first book of poems sometime soon.
She’s also hoping to continue to do some outreach work with youth and the Grenada Association of Montreal, of which has been a long serving member.
As well as her work with other community organizations such as the Cote des Neiges Black Community Association and Elizabeth House, where she serves as a board member.,
More than that, she enthuses, “there’s so much to do in the areas of motivating and helping others.”
Top of it all she says, is looking forward to going back on the McGill University campus to share in the joy of the convocations and to celebrate in the contributions and achievement of the many Black students, faculty and staff that are make their mark there.