Amherstburg Freedom Museum recognized by Ontario Trillium Foundation at AGM

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Amherstburg Freedom Museum held its annual general meeting inside the Nazrey AME Church and the meeting included provincial recognition for the museum.

The museum was recognized by the Ontario Trillium Foundation for receiving a $45,000 grant under the Ontario 150 Community Capital Grant program. The money helped the museum complete the project to put a new cedar shake roof on the Nazrey AME Church with some of the funds also being put towards a new courtyard at the museum.

“We had a great year in 2016 and we’re looking forward to a great 2017,” said Monty Logan, president of the museum’s board of directors.

Dan Allen (left), chair of the Ontario Trillium Foundation’s grant review team, and Essex MPP Taras Natyshak (right) present Amherstburg Freedom Museum president Monty Logan with a plaque in recognition of the museum’s Ontario 150 grant.  The presentation came at the museum’s annual general meeting.

Dan Allen (left), chair of the Ontario Trillium Foundation’s grant review team, and Essex MPP Taras Natyshak (right) present Amherstburg Freedom Museum president Monty Logan with a plaque in recognition of the museum’s Ontario 150 grant. The presentation came at the museum’s annual general meeting.

Logan also pointed out the challenge to repair the church roof was assisted by a fundraising campaign, and thanked those who donated towards it.

Essex MPP Taras Natyshak recognized the museum, saying while he gets to honour those who receive grants from the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF), it is the OTF that does the bulk of the work.

“The importance of maintaining, preserving and sharing this facility – this place of worship – and all the stories within is immense,” said Natyshak.

Natyshak pointed out the church’s role on the Underground Railroad, stating people seeking freedom from slavery found solace and love at the church. He said it not only means a lot to the Amherstburg and Essex County communities, but the church means a lot to the nation as well.

Dan Allen, a member of the OTF’s grant review team, noted the Nazrey AME Church has been part of the community for 170 years and it has played a vital role for so many people throughout the generations.

The AGM also was a time to recognize volunteers, including awarding the 2017 recipient of the Betty Simpson Volunteer of the Year Award. That was presented to Carolin Harris.

“It’s an incredible place to volunteer,” said Harris. “It was humbling to receive such a prestigious award. It’s humbling because it’s something I enjoy.”

Harris, who estimated she donated 200 hours of her time in 2016, said she lives across the street and came to volunteer about ten years ago when she saw a need to help maintain flowers and plants the Amherstburg Fort Malden Horticultural Society had planted.

“Ever since then, I’ve been taking care of it,” she said.

Harris added her children have worked at the museum and said “I could never repay what the museum has given to them.”

“Without volunteers, we couldn’t keep the doors open,” said Logan, who also paid tribute to the museum’s staff.

Logan also pointed out the museum is looking at getting a new website and wants to digitize their archives to make them more accessible online.

Carolin Harris (centre) receives the 2017 Betty Simpson Volunteer of the Year Award from Amherstburg Freedom Museum curator Mary-Katherine Whelan (left) and board president Monty Logan (right).

Carolin Harris (centre) receives the 2017 Betty Simpson Volunteer of the Year Award from Amherstburg Freedom Museum curator Mary-Katherine Whelan (left) and board president Monty Logan (right).

“We’re really excited about that initiative,” she said.

The museum is excited to host the Amherstburg Freedom Summit this fall, he added.

Programming committee chair Philip Alexander noted the museum facilitated the photography of some Underground Railroad descendants for an exhibit called “North is Freedom.” It was launched at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and was later displayed at the U.S. embassy in Ottawa. Alexander also pointed out the museum housed a portion of the “Family Ties: Ontario Turns 150” exhibit and also presented Mac Simpson Awards to students Sarah Tesfay and Keenan Wilson to help them pursue post-secondary educations.

Fundraising chair and museum vice president Darryl Hogan said they have a $35,000 goal that they want to hit and noted the upcoming June 3 “Ribs & Ragtime” event is one of the ways they will do it along with the Emancipation Gala and the Walter Perry Golf Classic. He encouraged people to bring family and friends to the museum so they could see what it’s all about.

Curator Mary-Katherine Whelan said the museum welcomed 1,654 visitors last year including school groups and people from across Canada and the United States. She thanked the volunteers and staff for their work and believed one of the most important parts of their jobs is sharing the history and stories the museum has to offer.

 

Comments are closed.