Ottawa’s June Girvan was one of twenty distinguished people invested with the prestigious Order of Ontario, by the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario and Chancellor of the Order of Ontario. June is founder of the J’Nikira Dinqinesh Education Centre in Ottawa, which serves children, youth and immigrant families through unique programs that foster intercultural understanding, racial harmony and social justice.
June is no stranger to such honours as her exemplary civic achievements over the past several years have been acknowledged far and wide. In November 2014, the Canadian Race Relations Foundation celebrated her accomplishments by presenting her with the Community Champion Special Award at the 2014 Awards of Excellence, held in Ottawa. June is also a past recipient of the Martin Luther King DreamKeepers’ award for her distinguished community leadership and engagement.
June Girvan has devoted her life to nurturing, protecting, affirming, and giving voice to children and young people. Since moving to Canada from Jamaica in the 1950s, Ms. Girvan has invested her talents and resources in bettering the lives of newly arrived Canadians, vulnerable children in the school system and at-risk youth. Her career included positions in teaching and curriculum development, and she also served as an Education Officer with the Ontario Ministry of Education.
After her retirement, Ms. Girvan founded the J’Nikira Dinqinesh Education Centre* (JDEC) in Ottawa, where she is the Volunteer-in-Chief. The JDEC’s community work is based on honouring and celebrating the moral compass of fellow Canadians, both historic and contemporary, for their efforts in fighting against slavery and championing human rights and social justice in Canada.
The JDEC’s main initiatives, held annually in Ottawa, include: Every Child is Sacred and Every Child is Sacred Day; The Era 21 Networking Breakfasts for Young Canadians; History-in-the-Street, and Reconciliation Day. June also started a program at Carleton University to expand students’ experience and understanding of inclusive citizenship in multicultural societies. The June Girvan Bursary is awarded annually to a graduate student at Carleton who is researching a topic related to reconciliation.
June is currently Acting President of Black History Ottawa, a registered Canadian charitable organisation devoted to promoting education and research, on the accomplishments and contribution of people of African descent to the Canadian mosaic.