Marva Wisdom admitted that she was not expecting to be appointed to the Order of Ontario.
The Guelph native was one of 26 appointees for 2022 that were announced on Nov. 6.
“I was overwhelmed when I received the call. I was in tears and wondered, ‘Who nominated me?’,” said Wisdom.
Wisdom did some volunteer work in the department that oversees the Order of Ontario and other awards. She said when she saw the name ‘award secretariat’ on the phone display, she initially thought she was being asked about something else.
“I thought they were calling me to serve on that committee again,” Wisdom said. “But (the person on the other line) said that I was recipient of the Order of Ontario.
The Order of Ontario is the highest honour that a civilian can receive in the province. Wisdom is being recognized for her work on diversity, inclusion, and belonging.
She recalled when a mentor of hers, Alex McRae, invited her to join the local Rotary Club and wondered if she would fit in with the group.
“He was telling me that I belong in Rotary,” said Wisdom. “He said give it some time. I realized that the folks had similar values to mine. So I stayed and have been a Rotarian for 16 years.”
Wisdom is a senior fellow at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Toronto and operates her own consulting firm offering motivational speeches, seminars and workshops. She is also a director at the Black Experience Project and was the founding chair of the Guelph Black Heritage Society.
The issue of diversity and inclusion has been making the rounds in the news, especially on the rights of Indigenous peoples and the LGBTQ2 community. Wisdom believes more people should get out of their comfort zone in order for them to be comfortable with others.
“We need more people to talk about what they are doing… to make spaces, to hear other stories,” said Wisdom. “We need more people to get beyond the fear of others, and to really fit in the pocket and listen.”
Wisdom will receive the Order of Ontario from Lt. Gov. Edith Dumont at a ceremony on Nov. 27.
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