June Girvan receives City Builder award

June Girvan, centre, with Mayor Jim Watson, her grandchildren Naakia and Damian and Rideau-Vanier Ward Councillor Mathieu Fleury  Photo copyright Black Ottawa Scene

Wednesday 27 June

Ottawa’s leading community leader, activist and philanthropist June Girvan received yet another accolade today when she was conferred with the Ottawa City Builder award by Mayor Jim Watson. The Mayor’s City Builder Award is a civic honour created to recognize an individual, group or organization that has, through outstanding volunteerism or exemplary action, demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to making our city a better place today and for the future

June is no stranger to such honours, as her exemplary civic achievements over the past several years have been acknowledged far and wide.  In 2016, she 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.

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 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.

Following the award ceremony in Council Chambers, June presided over a mini workshop with selected community leaders on the significance of the United Nations Decade for People of African descent. 

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