A prominent member of the Comox Valley and K’ómoks First Nation is being recognized for her community involvement, service and willingness to affect positive social change with a special award.
Ramona Johnson was recently chosen as the recipient of the Bunny Shannon Heart of the Community Award for 2023. The award is given annually by the Comox Valley Social Planning Society, to a nominated individual who embodies Shannon’s values and commitment to creating a just and health Comox Valley community.
Individuals who are involved in the community and provide above-and-beyond community service are considered for the award.
“I was so surprised… I’m just so humbled and honoured,” says Johnson from her home.
The former manager of the I-Hos Gallery (since its inception more than 25 years ago) is a cancer survivor, and in 2021, was diagnosed with stage 3C breast cancer.
With her most recent diagnosis, she explains that while she’s not able to do as much for the community as she would like, she reflects on how small acts of kindness can quickly add up.
“I always wanted to work to be a force for more good. With everything that is going on with the economy and the craziness in this world, more and more people need help. I’m not healthy enough to do big things, but giving a little extra money to pay for groceries during (the pandemic) because giving back in small ways all adds up to big ones.”
Johnson just completed collecting stuffies for the Comox Valley Healthcare Foundation, despite the fact she admits that she struggles with “good days and bad days.”
Her nominator and friend Karin Kratz has known Johnson and the work she has done in the community for nearly 20 years. She describes her as a “completely understated person who always works in the background… who gives with great joy and passion. We need more of that in the world.”
She listed a handful of organizations and events Johnson has been involved with or instrumental in organizing including the Coldest Night of the Year and Walking With Our Sisters - a memorial for missing and murdered Indigenous Women.
Kratz says because Johnson does so much work in the background, she found it was finally time for her to be noticed with an award such as this.
“She is endlessly giving herself; I wanted her recognized for that.”
The award will be presented to Johnson in early November.