Courtenay’s Gwyn Frayne has spent years helping others and standing up for what she believes in — and now, her efforts have been recognized by the Governor General.
Frayne received the Caring Canadian Award in Victoria on Thursday for her contribution to the Comox Valley community.
She said she felt very honoured to receive the award, but noted she was shocked when she found notification in the mail about a month ago.
“I mean that was a surprise, to get that (in the mail), because I’m always criticizing the government — I was rather surprised,” said Frayne with a laugh. “I actually thought the Governor General’s office was going to inform me they’d made a mistake.”
Frayne worked as a social worker and taught social work before taking an early retirement.
But unlike most, Frayne did not slow down in her retirement.
At 78 years of age, she’s still involved with the Council of Canadians, the Citizens for Quality Healthcare, CoalWatch Comox Valley, and is busy protesting the proposed Enbridge Pipeline in B.C.
In the past, Frayne was executive director of the Comox Valley Crisis Centre; she helped start the Eureka Clubhouse, which is a centre for adults with mental illness; helped start the North Island AIDS Coalition, which is now called AIDS Vancouver Island; helped start the Sonshine Club; helped secure funding for the Salvation Army’s men’s shelter; and has been integral in numerous other projects and sat on various community organization boards.
As an example of her dedication, she used to phone 50 people to notify them of meetings for the Comox Valley Coalition to Save Social Programs, (which is now dissolved), and sat outside Stan Hagen’s office one hour per week for one year in an effort to have social programs reinstated.
Comox Valley resident Sally Gellard met Frayne over 20 years ago during the Comox Valley Crisis Centre training sessions Frayne led, and said she has been an inspiration and mentor to many in the Valley.
“Gwyn pointed out the injustice of people living without homes, of people with mental illness being left without support, of violence against women, occurring right beneath our noses in our privileged Comox Valley community,” said Gellard. “She has continued to be a defender of human rights and social justice on many issues facing us in this community; homophobia, lack of adequate care for seniors, women and children experiencing violence and privatization of our health care systems to name a