Denise Jones announced as posthumous recipient of 2022 Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award

Beloved by all as a champion of the Canadian Black entertainment community, the late Denise Jones has been announced as the 2022 Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award.

Denise Jones’ commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion was unparalleled. As a champion of Afro-Caribbean culture in Canada and worldwide, she tirelessly made great strides in influencing the wider Canadian media landscape to acknowledge and value Black creators in all entertainment disciplines; and was the founding Chair of the Reggae Category for the JUNO Awards.

After emigrating to Canada in the 1980s, Jones received her BA in Communications and Theatre from the University of Windsor, and would go on to serve as a theatre critic/arts reporter for CBC Radio in Sudbury and then as an Executive Director for the Peel Multicultural Council. In addition to receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Urban Music Association of Canada, the Government of Ontario Community Service Award, the Ministry of Citizenship Ontario Government Award, and being named one of 100 Accomplished Black Canadian Women in 2018, Jones established the second largest Afrocentric cultural event in Canada, JAMBANA One World Festival, which, at its height, drew over 45,000 attendees. She passed away in December 2020 after being diagnosed with brain cancer.

“Growing up around my mother’s presence made me believe that things are possible. I saw her achieving and realizing, every single day. I am forever grateful for that, because I think that’s the most important thing you can give somebody, hope and belief in themselves. Mom did this for us at home and as she passed away, I also came to realize she was doing that for a lot of other people, too. She created a pathway for myself and many others in this country to follow and we’re committed to keeping that energy, that fire and legacy alive for generations to come,” said her son, Jesse Jones.

Named after the legendary Canadian publisher and co-founder of the JUNO Awards, the Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award recognizes individuals whose work has significantly impacted the growth and development of the Canadian music industry. This year’s award will be presented at the JUNO Opening Night Awards Presented by Ontario Creates on Saturday, May 14, and will be streamed live on CBC Gem and globally at cbcmusic.ca/junos.

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