ANDREW PARKER (AGP) - ROLE MODEL & AMBASSADOR
Officially Inducted into the “National Wall of Role Models” on June 7, 2014 ( See full list www.BlackCanadianAwards.com )
Tell us a little bit about yourself?
Andrew Gersham Parker also known as A.G.P (B.A and completing B.Ed) was born in North Edmonton in 1983. As the son of Jamaican and Grenadian parents, Andrew was heavily influenced by track and field, soccer, and other outdoor sports. But in the year 2000, Andrew attended M.E. Lazerte high school where he developed his passion for the game of basketball under the guidance of his hero and coach Thom Elniski. After graduating from M.E. Lazerte High school Andrew attended Concordia University College of Alberta where he was heavily recruited for his legendary slam-dunking skills and received a scholarship to play basketball for 2 years. While at Concordia, Andrew achieved the honour of being named the Rookie of the year and he also received the silver medal in the Provincial final (a feat until that date had never been accomplished in school history). After his second year studying at Concordia, Andrew took his talent and intellect to the University of Alberta where he again received a scholarship to play basketball and was named the Most Valuable Player in the 2007 Golden Bears Invitational Tournament.
Upon completing his Bachelor of Arts Degree at the University of Alberta, Andrew decided to take his talent to the professional level. Playing basketball all over the world with stops in Germany, Brazil, France and the United States, he continues to play basketball at the professional level with the Edmonton Energy professional basketball team. In addition to his obligations with the Edmonton team, in the past 10 years Andrew has been involved with motivational speaking, community activism, scouting and individual training of Elementary, Junior high, High school, and various college and university players.
Andrew is currently coaching collegiately at MacEwan University and volunteering, coaching with both the junior and senior men’s basketball teams at M.E Lazerte high school. He is the founder and director of the “Pride of the Northisde” Tournament (A community outreach event in North Edmonton promoting positive involvement from the community through the game of basketball). Also, Andrew runs “A.G.P basketball clinics” in Edmonton to help children of all ages develop basketball and life skills. As a proud member of Edmonton’s sports community, a mentor to children, and as a professional basketball player, Andrew continues to leave his imprint on the community and the game of basketball in Edmonton.
Tell us what many people may not know about you?
When I was a kid I was very heavily influenced by hip hop music. Last year I was able to create an album with a positive message for kids in my community. Some people know me as a basketball player, coach, and teacher but in another lifetime I would love to be a rapper.
What's your inspiration and how do you get motivated?
My inspiration is my mother Dr.Claudia Parker and my high school basketball coach. They are the essence of who I am and my moral compasses. I get motivated when I envision all that they have done for me and how much I desire to pay it forward to the next generation.
How did you get to where you are now and what more should we expect?
I was the son of immigrants and because of that I was raised to work hard for everything I wanted. I am currently a coach at MacEwan University and there was no secret recipe for my success; just hard work.
What would you like to be remembered for?
Humility. I was fortunate to play many levels of basketball, I have traveled the world, but what I am most proud of is the fact that I can look myself in the mirror each day and still see the child I was and know that I have remained true to my roots and my people.
o you balance work, family, friends and leisure?
Committed time management skills. I often make sure to add any events into my online schedule so that I don't miss anything, I also wear a watch every day because I always want to be conscious of what I am doing and how long I have to do it. Also, prioritizing and establishing a hierarchy of needs is essential to my success not just in business and sport but in life.
What's your favorite food, book, music and movie?
Food: Macaroni pie, Dumplin, Jerk Chicken, Rice, and Peas
Book: The Autobiography of Malcolm X, The Outsiders, The Holy Bible
Movie: The Green Mile
What's your experience as a Black person in Canada?
My experience is that I feel very fortunate to be born in this country. Canada gave my family an opportunity to get good jobs and to create a new home. I feel that our country is very multicultural and this allows me as a black man certain freedoms that I may not be afforded in other countries.
That being said, I do feel that our society is not a utopia nor is it a slum but there are some things I am concerned with. In my community, we have faced issues of crime, violence, and negative stereotypes that I feel my generation needs to help combat for the sake of the next generation. Our youth face many issues that my generation didn't have to deal with. Rather than feeling satisfied with our individual accomplishments, we should try to do everything in our power to help educate our youth and mentor them when they need us. "It takes a village to raise a child" is an African proverb that I relate to because I know we can receive help from the government or other resources but the root of any solution comes from our homes, families and communities helping one another.
Are there as many opportunities for Blacks in Canada that can produce role models and institutions like TD Jakes, Beyonce, Tyler Perry, Obama, BET, etc.
Absolutely and I think we are starting to see trends of that every day and all over the country. I have black friends in almost every province in Canada and they have been updating their events, and promoting great causes via social media and the results have been incredible. We are starting to see what will inevitably be the proliferation of a new generation of committed, devoted, and ambitious role models for black youth.
Mention a few of your favorite Black Canadian Leaders, Artists and Role Models?
My Mother Dr. Claudia Parker is my greatest Black Canadian Role Model. She grew up in almost poverty, with 8 brothers and sisters and worked incredibly hard to come to Canada and attain her Doctorate in Education at the University of Alberta. She is the reason I am pursuing my Education degree and mentoring youth in the community.
Should and do Blacks support or patronize black music, events and businesses?
In my community, the black people absolutely support one another. Black people and all people from the African diaspora share a sense of heritage and commonality that I think facilitates patronage and support for one another. As a minority in North America, I think most black people gravitate to one another and support one another in a true sense of family and brotherhood (for the most part).
What is your understanding of Black History in Canada?
Black history in Canada is a result of immigration and the establishment of strong roots within our heritage. We have the American slaves, African immigrants, West Indian immigrants as well as all other people from the diaspora who traveled to this country. We have a very rich history that spans farther than the just the underground railroad. In every province, Black people have helped develop this Nation. Dr. Carrie Best, Mary Ann Shad, George Rogers, Deborah Cox, Cabral Richards, Donovan Bailey, and Matthew De Costa (one of our earliest brothers who came to Canada) all contributed to our rich history in Canada.
Andrew’s advice to an uninspired person:
Anything is possible. I was the child of immigrants who faced plenty of adversity in my life's journey. In times of hardship, we must remember and listen to the words of those who have inspired us. Life is a gift from God and no matter what happens to you, as long as you are living there is always a chance for you to turn things around. Be thankful and grateful for all things (good or bad) because in the end that is what develops character and makes you unique.