Norita Fleming honoured as Toronto’s Irish Person of the Year

  • March 16, 2011
Norita FlemingTORONTO - More than 500 members of the Toronto Irish community applauded Norita Fleming as she was chosen Irish Person of the Year at a Hilton Hotel luncheon on March 6.

“I was stunned when I heard — and felt very humble,” said Fleming.

Fleming emigrated to Canada in the mid-1960s where she soon met her husband, Bill. They went on to raise four children in Toronto.

She became one of the founders of the County Cork Association Toronto. As an active member of St. Cecilia’s parish in Toronto, she worked on the St. Patrick’s Day Mass Committee. She headed up the World Youth Day committee at her present parish, St. Luke’s in Thornhill, where she arranged billeting for large groups of pilgrims arriving in Toronto. As one speaker put it, “After that there was no stopping her.”

Through her involvement with needy children in St. Paul’s parish Breakfast Club, she was inspired to found its Toronto School of Irish Music in 2004. The school offers inner city children “food for the soul” through the gift of music.

She has worked with the Matthew 25 Committee to bring help to Madagascar school children. One of her most newsworthy activities was organizing the Famine Memorial Walk to St. Paul’s Basilica in 1997, marking the 150th anniversary of the first famine ship to arrive at Grosse Ile, Que. Today, a small park at Toronto’s waterfront commemorates the arrival of the Irish.

Fleming continues her volunteer work in these and other activities. She is president of the Irish Cultural Society of Toronto, yet “in the retirement” she and husband Bill operate Norita’s Bed and Breakfast in Thornhill.

Among the guests paying tribute were Irish Ambassador to Canada, Ray Bassett, committee chair Kitty Freely and Fr. Gerry Scott. This honour was inaugurated in 1991 with the first recipient being former Chief of Police Williams J. McCormack.

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