Country Roads contributor Barry Penhale and his wife Jane Gibson were recently honoured with The Harriet Tubman Award – Commitment to a Purpose at the Ontario Black History Society Black History Month Kick-Off Brunch in Toronto Jan. 31.
Penhale and Gibson have been involved in a variety of Ontario-based race relations initiatives, in Penhale’s case dating back to the 1950s. After Penhale founded Natural Heritage Books in the 1980s, he and Gibson made a concerted effort to support African-Canadian works in print. This led to the publication of titles such as ‘A Stolen Life’ and ‘The Underground Railroad: Next Stop Toronto!’ as well as the support of such African-Canadian writers as Afua Cooper, Bryan Prince, Natasha Henry and Adrienne Shadd.
Currently they actively support the Emancipation Day festivities held in Owen Sound, the Northern Terminus of the Underground Railway.
The Harriet Tubman Award is named for the leading abolitionist and civil rights activist who led hundreds of enslaved people to freedom along the route of the Underground Railroad.