Joseph Edwards, on different occasions, had to re-align his dreams to secure excellence.
“You have to learn to persevere,” said the former sales representative, police officer, and probation officer.
He is also a published poet.
Edwards, who now lives in Canada, is from Linstead and Bog Walk in St. Catherine.
He told The Beacon: “I started out living with both parents [in Bog Walk], and then there was a separation. That led to a back-and-forth. At one point in time, I would be with my mother [in Linstead]. Another point in time, I would be with my father [in Bog Walk].”
When Edwards was in second form at Charlemont High School, his father, Alvin, who was a small businessman, passed away. His mother, Valerie McLaughlin, was a teacher for most of her professional years.
Edwards knew the value of having a sound education.
He attended Bethel Basic School, Linstead Primary School for three years, and Rosemount Primary before he became enrolled at Charlemont High.
The church, Edwards said, also played a pivotal role in his upbringing. “I am from a Christian background – Seventh Day Adventist, to be exact. Religious teachings, morals, values, and the family – these were very dear to me.”
From an early age, Edwards, whose childhood dream was to become an accountant and businessman, also understood the importance of earning an honest bread. While still in high school, he worked during weekends and holidays on a farm owned by businessman Roy Lee.
“That work provided me with pocket money; it also provided assistance with going to school and all those things,” he commented.
After leaving high school, Edwards obtained his first full-time job. He was hired as a sales and marketing clerk at a Thermo Plastics subsidiary in Twickenham Park, St. Catherine.
His tenure there lasted for nearly two years.
“I left because of receivership. That was the time of FINSAC, and Thermo Plastics was one of those companies that went down. I was one of the first casualties because I was one of the new persons there,” Edwards explained.
He was jobless at home for about six months after leaving Thermo Plastics.
Edwards later became a security guard, hired by the now defunct Zicon Security Limited.
He stated that, while he was a security officer, people often encouraged him to become a police officer.
“I never intended or wanted to be a police officer at no time in my life. My aim was to become an accountant,” he told The Beacon.
He became a member of the Island Special Constabulary Force (ISCF), which eventually was merged with the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) in 2014.
“I rose pretty quickly to the rank of sergeant,” Edwards commented.
During his tenure as a cop, he worked mainly in Kingston and in the court system. He also served at the chaplaincy, and as an instructor at the National Police College of Jamaica.
Edwards also bolstered his credentials while working in the police force. He obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Counselling from the International University of the Caribbean in 2014. “I worked in the day and go to school during the night for four years,” he said.
Armed with new qualification, Edwards proved to be a fine fit for the Medical Services Branch of the police force. He served there as a counsellor for police officers and their families.
He left the JCF on November 25, 2016.
Immediately after severing ties with the police force, Edwards became employed to the Department of Correctional Services, working as a probation officer mainly in the court system.
He left that job in 2018 and relocated to Canada to pursue studies at Sheridan College in Toronto.
He studied community justice services, and has been working since then in Canada’s court system.
“The transitioning was not very difficult because I have relatives here [in Canada],” Edwards said. “I have not regretted coming to Canada; I am not regretting it. In fact, if I had known that this is how it was, I certainly would have been here [in Canada] five or 10 years earlier.”
Edwards said he is particularly fascinated by Canada’s cleanliness, its emphasis on nature, and the friendliness of its people. “Civility and decency are what you see around you daily,” he added.
As a way of giving back to his adopted homeland, Edwards ensures that he stays socially involved. In addition to being a member of Toastmaster International, he is co-founder of Creative Writers Guild Toastmasters, which voluntarily teaches public speaking and writing.
Edwards noted that, although he lives in Canada, he does not intend to abandon the land of his birth.
“I have never lost my roots; it is very much important to me,” he said, adding that several of his relatives are still living in Jamaica.
Edwards, in the meantime, has been recipient of various awards and accolades for his stellar work in various areas. One of his most cherished awards is the one he got in December 2007 when he was declared the ISCF cop of the year, he told The Beacon.
Some of his feats also have come in the field of poetry.
Edwards, so far, published three collections of poems – Moments in Jamaica, Coloured Views, and Come Away With Me: Poetry for Reflection. He is now working on his fourth book.
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