CBWC | London

Chapter History

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London Chapter History

The London chapter was established in 1989. The objectives of the London Chapter are to address the social, economic and cultural issues and needs of all Black women. We welcome all Black women sixteen years of age and older for individual membership. The chapter maintains membership in ACFOLA, African Canadian Federation of London and Area, and Pillar Non-Profit network. Members of the London chapter organize and participate in educational activities including lectures, seminars, and various fundraising ventures that support its programs. These include annual scholarship awards made in honour of the first President, the late Gwen Jenkins, and Kay Livingstone. The Chapter has established an Endowment at Brescia University College to support the Doctor Marlene MacLeish Award and is currently fundraising to establish a similar, new Endowment at Western University. The London Chapter is expanding its reach into the community by collaborating with other groups, including groups supporting immigrant communities. We collaborate with African Canadian Women and Friends Inc., a non-profit corporation which works to provide tutoring and mentorship to elementary and high school students and women who migrated here in the last ten years.
Groundbreaking and in celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary, the London chapter commissioned a play, Flowers and Thorns. This play honours the lives of six notable Canadian women of African heritage (Carrie Best, Viola Desmond, Rosemary Brown, Portia White, Kay Livingstone and Mary Ann Shadd). Written and directed by Jason Rip, it played to a London audience on January 26, 2018.

London Chapter Founder - Gwen (Barton) Jenkins

Founder of the London Chapter of the Congress of Black Women Canada, was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She was the second of three children. Her parents were active in the community and instilled in her an early sense of dedication to service and a passion for lifelong learning.

Like her mother before her, Gwen entered the field of nursing. She had the distinction of being the first Black woman in Nova Scotia to graduate from a recognized school of nursing (Halifax Children’s Hospital), and accepted a position at Victoria Hospital in London, Ontario – sight unseen, becoming their first Black employee. London, Ontario is also where Gwen would meet her husband, Fred Jenkins, to whom she would be married for 42 years before her sudden passing in 1996.

Gwen was motivated by an “interest in people” and believed that one’s voice could be their most valuable asset. In 1975, she was instrumental in founding London’s Sexual Assault Centre and held many positions from fundraising to 24-hour on-call counselling to sitting on the board of directors.

After her nursing career ended in 1988 due to a back injury, she continued to work in the community and in 1989 founded the Congress of Black Women of Canada, London Chapter (her sister-in-law, Kay Livingstone, founded the national organization in Toronto in 1971).

Gwen’s focus with the Congress was twofold: encouraging Caribbean, African and Canadian Black women in London to unite and work together as one harmonious community; and supporting Black youth through education. She believed in empowering black women and was a major voice on women’s issues.

Alongside her work in the Congress, she continued to be involved in numerous community-oriented projects such as London’s Sub-Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and the London Board of Education Adult Basic Education Program, providing one-on-one tutoring to adult non-readers.

A mother, wife, friend, mentor and advocate of equal rights, Gwen brought an unparalleled enthusiasm, loyalty and dedication to all she embarked upon and left all who knew her profoundly inspired.

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Executive Team

Our Executive Team is comprised of elected members from London chapter.

Nikisha Evans

President

Maya Mark

Vice-President

Christina Richards

Treasurer

Vacant

Secretary

Committee Chairs

Our Executive Team is comprised of elected members from London chapter.

Pastor Sandie Thomas

Chair of Public Relations

Rita McAuley

Chair of Education

Tobi Tayo

Chair of Fundraising

Vacant

Chair of Membership
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Past Presidents

President Year
Janet Collins
2014- 2020
Margaret Mark
2012-2014
Colette Chapman
2010 -2012
Janis Mark
2008-2010
Rita McAuley
2004 -2008
Liz Akano
2002- 2004
Maureen Jenkins
2000 -2002
Wilma Prescod
1998 -2000
Veronica Dryden
1996 -1998
Gwen Jenkins
1989 - 1996