A Simcoe County woman who was a driving force in the restoration of the Oro African Church and the preservation of the Bethel-Union Pioneer Cemetery has received a prestigious award.
Janie Cooper-Wilson was presented with the 2018 Harriet Tubman Award for commitment to the purpose of raising awareness of the importance of preserving Black History.
The award was handed out Sunday at the Ontario Black History Society's Black History Month Kick-Off Brunch at the Toronto Convention Centre.
"This is the social event of the season for the Black Community and the award is a great honour which was especially important because 2018 is the 40th Anniversary of the OBHS," said Cooper-Wilson. "I'm very, very honoured to be acknowledged."
Cooper-Wilson received the honour for her efforts in the promotion of Black History.
At 71, she is a tireless advocate who has regular public speaking engagements at schools, libraries, museums, and historical and service clubs throughout the province.
She was unaware of being nominated until she got the call saying she had won.
Shortly after that she received another call.
"They announced I was being included in the booklets coming out for the 2018 Edition of the 100 Accomplished Canadian Black Women. There's a gala in September. I was nominated by Dr. Jean Augustine. It's a great honour coming from her," said Cooper-Wilson.
"There again I didn't know I was nominated. I just do my thing."
The Sunday event was 'extra special' because Cooper-Wilson's daughter was there with her. She was also reunited with many cousins that she hadn't seen since they were children, including Lyle Kersey, who received a Life Achievement Award.
Black History Month begins on Thursday.
2018 Award Recipients were:
- The Dr. Daniel G. Hill Award for Community Service - Dr. Beverley-Jean Daniel
- The Mary Matilda Winslow Award for Advocacy in Public Education - Dr. Carl James
- The Mathieu Da Costa Award for Facilitator and Communicator - Dr. Karolyn Smardz Frost
- The Rev. Addie Aylestock Award for Paving the Way for Others - Ray Williams
- The Rose Fortune Award for Strength of Character and Firm Resolve - Woodgreen Community Centre/Rights of Passage
- The Harriet Tubman Award for Commitment to Purpose - Janie Cooper-Wilson
- Lifetime Achievement Award Recipients: Joey Hollingsworth, Sally Green - Huston and Lyle Kersey