Marva Wisdom cherishes her 2002 YWCA Woman of Distinction Award and the Diamond Jubilee Medal she received two years ago to mark Queen Elizabeth II ascension to the throne over six decades ago.
But, the Jamaican Canadian Association’s (JCA) International Women’s Day Community Award she was honoured with last Sunday will always hold a special place in her heart.
“This is more significant than any other recognition I have received because it’s coming from the Jamaica Diaspora,” said Wisdom who migrated from the Caribbean island at age 14. “It’s a good feeling to be honoured by your own.”
Wisdom was presented with the award in the presence of her parents Edward, who celebrated his 82nd birthday last Tuesday, and Eva Bailey; her husband of 32 years, Len Wisdom, and two of their three children.
Her parents moved from Tavistock to Stratford nine months after migrating in 1974.
“This is the first or second time they have been to the JCA and I am so happy they are here to celebrate this honour with me,” she said. “If it wasn’t for their unconditional love and work ethic, my accomplishments would have been miniscule.”
Through Wisdom Consulting, she provides clients with the tools and courage they need to facilitate meaningful growth through leadership, effective engagement, diversity and inclusivity.
Wisdom is the founding chair of the Guelph Black Heritage Foundation that is seeking funds to restore the former British Methodist Church (BME) in Guelph – a designated heritage site – which was a refuge for freed slaves who made their way to Canada via the Underground Railroad and the director of the ground-breaking Black Experience Project exploring the lived experience of Blacks in the Greater Toronto Area.
A member of Culchaworks Arts Collective that is committed to telling Black stories that are historically important, Wisdom also chaired the 2010 and 2011 United Way Guelph-Wellington campaign team that raised nearly $5 million for social services in her community.
“Marva has built a life on compassion, social justice and inclusivity,” said former JCA president Audrey Campbell who presented the award to Wisdom. “She is a community leader who lends her personal and professional passions to her clients and the community.”
As part of the JCA Women’s Committee 15th annual International Women’s Day celebration attended by federal Member of Parliament Judy Sgro, six women were honoured for contributions to the organization which was founded in 1962. They were Haslene Davis who has been with the JCA since the 1970s; membership and women’s committee volunteer Sylvia Edwards; Saturday Morning Tutorial Program (SMTP) co-ordinator Vilma Garnett; Ionie Grizzle who joined the organization seven years ago; respiratory therapist Rosa Lynn who is also a SMTP volunteer and Penny Williams who is on the women’s committee board.
Recognition awards were also presented to longtime JCA members Bruce McDonald and Leon Sutherland for supporting women members over the years.