"I Feel Very Close to the Jewish People"

Published: September 21st 2010
in News » Local

Vernon Hendrickson

In 1969, when Vernon Hendrickson came to Toronto from the Caribbean State of St. Kitts-Nevis, he settled at Bathurst and Wilson, at a time when there were not many black people in the area. Soon after that, during a visit to the library, he had a meeting that would make a significant impact on his life.


“I decided to take some refresher courses in mathematics and English, and while I was at the library I met a gentleman by the name of Mel Goldberg,” Hendrickson told Shalom Life. “He said to me: ‘I go to the University of Toronto, and if you ever need any help, I can help you.’ And it took off from there. He lived at Bathurst and Glencairn; there were a lot of Jewish people there. I met his father, Samuel Goldberg, and his mother as well. Extremely nice people.”


Hendrickson became a regular at the Goldberg household, befriending the entire family. “I had an extremely good relationship with the Jewish people,” he said and added: “My father Rufus Hendrickson worked with a Jewish gentleman. He was his right hand man. He owned a cinema and my father was a foreman for him. I don’t know if my father, somewhere down the road, has a connection with a Jewish family, but every time I meet a Jewish person, it seems as though we’re relatives.”


One of the incidents he is most proud of took place in 1987. Driving on Lawrence Avenue on a cold winter day, Hendrickson spotted an elderly woman in need of help standing on the side of the road. He turned his vehicle around to see if he could assist her, and learned that she needed to take her ailing husband to the hospital, and could not take him herself since her car sticker had expired.  Hendrickson politely offered to help her. Several days later he received a package with a plaque saying that the family, who was Jewish, had made a generous donation to Bar Ilan University in Israel in his name.


20 years ago, Hendrickson moved to Vaughan, where he lives to this day. Now, he hopes that the many Jewish residents of Vaughan’s Ward 5 will choose him as their city councillor in the elections on October 25.


“I ran in the last election in Ward 4,” he said. “Now they changed the boundaries and I’m satisfied with the changes because the [new] boundaries entail all of the people that I would really like to represent: the Jewish people, the Italian people, the Filipino people, the Black people, the Portuguese, the Greeks, you name it. All ethnic groups. I get along with them.”


Hendrickson said that he decided to run for the position of city councillor because “I like people, I like society, and I love to see the world improve for the betterment of mankind. That is my main goal: that a human being should have a meaningful life. We should get along with each other, respect each other, and care for each other, regardless of race or religion.”


Over the 20 years he has lived in Vaughan, Hendrickson has worked with former Thornhill MP Elinor Caplan, founded the Thornhill African Caribbean Canadian Association, has volunteered extensively in the community, and has been recognized by Vaughan MP (and current candidate for the position of mayor of Vaughan) Maurizio Bevilacqua, former Vaughan mayor Lorna Jackson, and even the Queen, having received in 2002 the Queen’s Jubilee Medal on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of her accession to the throne.


Hendrickson hopes that his love of people and volunteer experience, coupled with his previous political experience, will make him the best councillor for Ward 5. He identified several issues that make up a part of his platform, one example of which is traffic congestion in Vaughan.


Related articles: (vaughan, city councillor, ward 5, elections)
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