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Black excellence recognized during Black History Month in Collingwood

Black residents were honoured by the Sheffield Park Black History and Culture Museum for achievements in sports, business, community service, and art
The award recipients with Carolynn Wilson following the presentations at the Heritage Community Church in Collingwood.

All month long Sheffield Park Black History and Cultural Museum has been putting Black excellence on display at the Heritage Community Church, using items from the museum to tell the stories of local people. 

Today, one of the museum curators, Carolynn Wilson, presented awards to a few community members to recognize their achievements and, following the theme of the month, Black excellence. 

The presentations took place at Heritage Community Church on Seventh Street, starting at 10 a.m. on Feb. 27. 

Kicha Holden 

Holden received an award recognizing her achievements in the financial business sector, because of her work at TD Bank as an advisor and for her work to promote Black culture as one of the organizers of Carnival North. 

"The festival is very, very close to my heart as it is a celebration of history, where people like me found a way to celebrate in their own communities, despite the fact that they were banned from doing so," said Holden in a statement she submitted after finding out she won the award. "It's also a way to rejoice in the fact that today, those barriers are recognized, acknowledged, addressed, and we are able to celebrate humanity together." 

Kicha Holden was recognized for her achievements in business, specifically the financial sector, and for her work as a co-organizer for Carnival North. Erika Engel/CollingwoodToday

Janie Cooper-Wilson

Cooper-Wilson received an award recognizing her advocacy work, her public speaking and her research into ancestral history. 

She is a decorated volunteer, serving on the Ontario Historical Society board of directors, founding the Silver Shoe Historical Society, and this week received a special award from the Toronto Metropolitan Police Department for performance above and beyond the expectations of the community. 

Cooper-Wilson urged the awards crowd to keep up the work of preservation. 

"Our history is in great danger, even though we've made many, many wonderful strides" said Cooper-Wilson. 

Janie Cooper-Wilson was recognized for her achievements in public speaking, as an author, and for her work researching ancestral histories. Erika Engel/CollingwoodToday

​Farel Anderson

Anderson, a dentist in Collingwood for 45 years, is a volunteer at many local organizations, a Paul Harris fellow, a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth Jubilee award for community service, and a recipient of the Order of Collingwood and companion to the Order of Collingwood. 

He is also a regular volunteer at the Sheffield Park Black History and Culture Museum. 

"It's with due humility that I come here today to receive this award," said Anderson. "I think we should all commit ourselves to helping the community as much as we can, in any small way we can, Black, white, or in-between. There's always room for helping others." 

Farel Anderson, a retired dentist, was recognized for his achievements in dentistry and also for his volunteerism, community service and work to support the museum. Erika Engel/CollingwoodToday

Doug Galloway

Galloway was a Boy Scouts leader in the 1990s and later became a volunteer and advisor to the Sheffield Park Black History and Culture Museum. 

His support of the museum included using his skills as a photographer to create a series of postcards featuring the artifacts at the museum to be sold in the gift shop. 

On top of that, he is a regular handyman for the museum, fixing what needs it. 

​A little shocked about receiving the award, Galloway said he's excited to start work again at the museum as it prepares for a spring opening. 

Doug Galloway was recognized for his community service, commitment to history and culture and support of the museum, along with his achievements in photography. Erika Engel/CollingwoodToday

​Shah Mohammed

Mohammed immigrated to Canada in 1968 from Trinidad with his sons to Barrie and worked with the Cubs before moving to Wasaga Beach where he served as president of the minor hockey association. 

He moved to Collingwood about ten years ago and has been a member of the Unity Collective and a volunteer with Good Food Box. 

Mohammed said he was honoured by the award, but was sure it should be him celebrating Carolynn and her sister Sylvia Wilson for their work in preserving and promoting local Black history. 

Shah Mohammed was recognized for his volunteer work in the Collingwood and Wasaga Beach communities and for his support of the Sheffield Park museum. Erika Engel/CollingwoodToday

Earl Wilson 

Wilson is a Canadian legend for his achievements in sport, specifically powerlifting and arm wrestling. He has stood on the world championship podium 19 times, 11 times at the top of it, and plans to go to Greece this summer to win more medals. 

He is still the Canadian National Arm Wrestling champion, and that's just one of the 35 national titles he won in his career. 

It was the people who told him that his goals were impossible who also provided the motivation he needed to accomplish them. 

"If you tell me I can't, I'm going to do it," said Wilson. "Don't let anybody tell you that you're less than or you're not worthy of ... because it's wrong." 

Earl Sheffield was recognized for his achievements in sport - power lifting and arm wrestling - including 19 world champion titles. . Erika Engel/CollingwoodToday

Mike Jarrett

Jarrett was recognized for his achievements in publishing. He is the editor-in-chief for the Portside Caribbean magazine, and is a regular at Heritage Community Church, sometimes filling in at the pulpit with an encouraging word. 

Jarrett said he was inspired by the other award recipients and echoed other comments about the importance of telling their stories. 

He said the Sheffield Park Black History and Culture Museum has done amazing work to collect artifacts and stories to tell the history of Africa in the diaspora. 

"That history is one of the most concise collections of artifacts and information about the story of both people who were physically removed from one space to another unfamiliar space," said Jarrett. "People were stepped upon in a space in which they had no knowledge and no history and no desire to build. That has changed ... the stories are there." 

Mike Jarrett was recognized for excellence in publishing as the editor-in-chief for Portside Carribean. Erika Engel/CollingwoodToday

More awards were made, but the recipients couldn't attend the ceremony, including: 

  • Ruth Roberts for her achievements in art 
  • Nancy Lee for achievements in ancestral documentation for the Negro Creek Black settlement
  • Gael Miller-Jackson for her achievements as a gospel music soloist and playwright and as an ancestral historian 
  • Tony Miller for his accomplishments in arts and as a cultural historian 
  • Marcia Hubbs for achievements in music and cultural advocacy 
  • Linette Jackson for achievements in cultural advocacy and as an ancestral historian

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Erika Engel

About the Author: Erika Engel

Erika regularly covers all things news in Collingwood as a reporter and editor. She has 15 years of experience as a local journalist
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