Shirley Chernin


In 2014, the Katharine McLennan Award for exemplary volunteer and community contributions was awarded to Shirley Chernin.

Shirley Rebecca Chernin (née Wolfson) was born on October 23, 1927 to Abraham and Bessie Wolfson. Upon completing a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Toronto in 1947, Chernin returned to Cape Breton, where she married Joseph Chernin (1924-2001) of Glace Bay. Chernin resided in Glace Bay for fifty-two years, becoming an influential member of both the Jewish community and the community at large.

A member of the Canadian Hadassah-WIZO since 1948, Chernin has served as President of the Hadassah-WIZO Cape Breton Council and as the National Executive, Regional Chairperson. Chernin also co-convened the Hadassah-WIZO Bazaar throughout its successful forty-two year span.Playing an integral role in preserving and highlighting the history of Glace Bay’s Jewish community, Chernin served as chair of the six-person volunteer planning committee for the Kum A Haym (Home Coming) in 2001. A celebration of the Congregation Sons of Israel’s 100th anniversary, the event attracted more than 500 Jewish people from across North America and from as far away as the United Kingdom.

A founding member, chairperson, and participant of the Citizens Service League in Glace Bay from 1967 to 1998, Chernin helped establish the many programs implemented through the organization including Meals on Wheels and the Town Day Care Centre. Chernin also served as chairperson and board member of Cape Breton Transition House and founded and chaired Friends of Transition House. Among Shirley’s many other board positions include the Gerontology Association of Nova Scotia from 1989-1992, University College of Cape Breton from 1991-1997, and both the Glace Bay Heritage Society and the Glace Bay Community Health Centre in 1999. Chernin has two children, daughter Marta and son Mark and currently resides in Sydney, Nova Scotia.

Shirley has received numerous awards and commendations including:

  • Citizens Service League “Community Service Award” presented in 1979;
  • Congregation Sons of Israel “Community Involvement Award” presented in 1985;
  • Canadian Federal Government’s “125th Anniversary Medal” presented in 1992;
  • Business and Professional Women’s Club’s “Woman of the Year” presented in 1994;
  • Order of Nova Scotia in 2002 followed by the Board of Excellence Award from Transition House in 2005.

For 2014 the featured artist was Brent Harding. To view Brent’s work, visit his website or Facebook page.