Long-time community activist Gerry Giles is the 2022 recipient of the South Vancouver Island District Women’s Institute’s Rural Woman of the Year Award.
Giles, who was nominated by the Cobble Hill Women’s Institute, received the award from Donna Jack, president of the SVIDWI, at a luncheon in Cobble Hill Hall on Oct. 17.
Giles moved to the Cowichan Valley in 1974 and became a school trustee before she was voted in as the Cowichan Valley Regional District’s director for Cobble Hill, a role in which she served for 15 years, as well as a period as chair of the CVRD.
She was on the management teams of three major events in the Cowichan Valley including serving as secretary of the North American Indigenous Games in 2008, president of the BC Seniors’ Games in 2005, and in 2017, she co-chaired the National Aboriginal Hockey Championships.
Giles is the secretary at the Farmer’s Institute in which she has a wide range of responsibilities, and was the founding trustee of the Braithwaite Estates Improvement District, a local water purveyor providing water to 275 homes in Cobble Hill, and is currently a trustee on that board.
Giles also does all the meal planning and is the main cook for South Cowichan Seniors, which provides healthy meals to seniors, and has served as president of the South Cowichan Rotary Club.
She’s also been instrumental in many other projects in the Cobble Hill community, including the revitalization of Train Station Park, the creation of Bike Park, the revitalization and relocation of the Cenotaph and the creation of Liberation Park.
Giles has also worked tirelessly over many years to have the former Highways Works Yard donated to the Cobble Hill community, which resulted in the creation of the Cobble Hill Commons.
Linda Bilkowski, president of the Cobble Hill Women’s Institute, said Giles has devoted her life to the community in Cobble Hill.
“Her determination, innovative ideas, a steady hand on the helm for every challenge that occurs in Cobble Hill that is within her capabilities to solve makes Gerry Giles an ideal candidate for Woman of the Year 2022,” she said.
Gay Wise, president of the South Cowichan Rotary Club, added that Giles has been an enthusiastic volunteer for both fundraisers and community projects in the community over the years.
“Although she does not seek approbation, she truly is a person to be admired,” Wise said.