Season of Honours for Canada’s #1 SCD Activist
It all began with trying to immortalize a younger brother and a fallen SCD hero when Lanre Tunji-Ajayi established the Seed Of Life Philanthropic Organization, SOLPO, which later morphed into the Sickle Cell Awareness Group of Ontario (SCAGO). Mrs. Tunji-Ajayi poured all her energy into her project, and began to rally individuals, families as well as organizations in all Canada’s provinces with an SCD focus under one umbrella. The result of that singular effort was the formation of the Sickle Cell Disease Association of Canada (SCDAC) with Mrs. Tunji-Ajayi as President.
SCDAC is organized along the same lines as the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America (SCDAA) and has the same objectives – assistance to members, awareness and research. As for Canada, a bi-lingual nation, the AAFC holds the forte for French speakers with Tunji-Ajayi as overall coordinator.
Then a chance encounter with Canadian Senator in 2012 and a clear outline of her vision for SCD in her adopted country. The result, just under a year ago, was the recognition of June 19 as Canada’s National Sickle Cell Day. For this, Lanre Tunji-Ajayi was on July 12 2018 awarded a Medal of Honour by the Senate of Canada.
In 2017, to mark the 150th anniversary of its first sitting, the Canadian Senate created a medal to celebrate the achievements of Canadians who have made significant contributions to their community.
‘Recipients of the medal are a reminder of the values that bind us together and make Canada a caring and compassionate country,’ noted Senator Cordy who presented a medal to Tunji-Ajayi. ‘Lanre more than embodies these values. Since our first meeting, she has been nothing less than remarkable. Without her guidance and persistence, my sickle cell awareness bill would not have happened and we wouldn’t be celebrating the first National Sickle Cell Awareness Day. Without her, I wouldn’t be so blessed to meet so many in the sickle cell community…I often refer to the bill as my sickle cell bill, but in reality, it was our bill.’
An estimated 5000 Canadians live with SCD.
100 Most-Accomplished Black Women Award
Lanre Tunji-Ajayi in September 2018 also received an award as one of the 100 most Accomplished Black Canadian women. Her husband, Elder Timothy Tunji-Ajayi, Founder, SCAGO accompanied her to receive the award. It was also the month of the couple’s 25th wedding anniversary.
On her twitter feed, Mrs. Tunji-Ajayi stated she was –
Privileged to be among the 100 accomplished Black women honoured at the 100abc 2018.