Could there be anyone who more solidly typifies the very essence of what it is to be an Amnesty International activist, fully and selflessly committed to the cause of human rights, than Marjorie Sheridan. My first introduction to Marjorie was when she hosted a sumptuous reception for released Malawian prisoner of conscience Vera Chirwa some twenty years ago. Against the backdrop of fine food, lovely company and resplendent surroundings there was no mistaking Marjorie’s fiery resolve. marjorie
I knew that I would encounter her energy and fine spirit on many more occasions. And that I did. And always it has been Marjorie’s tireless willingness to set up the display table, promote the petition, give drives to other volunteers, help with the planning and so much more that has been at the heart of some of our best activism in Toronto for years. But above all else it is, of course, all about Marjorie’s laugh. If laughter could sweep away the walls of repression, Marjorie’s would lead the charge. Maybe with a martini or two thrown in for good measure! We all love you for who you are and what you do Marjorie. Thank you.
I have known Marjorie for a long time – probably since the late 1980’s or early 90’s when she used to organized big outreach opportunities throughout the city including downtown bank plazas, Yorkdale and Fairview malls and some conventions . She was running the merchandise programme and would load her van to full capacity with information literature, action items and lots and lots of merchandise. I helped at these tables on many of these occasions and it was a great pleasure to work with her. These events were very successful but we did get frustrated at one stage as all the T-shirts from Ottawa came only in large and extra large sizes which limited our sales. So we sent a petition to the Ottawa office in standard Amnesty language stating that the human rights of small and medium sized people were being abused and “urging” them to take immediate action. We did get a humorous reply in kind from AI board member Ian Heide.
With Group 74 Marjorie organized AI’s Afrofest booth for many years as well as other interesting events. I know too that she did an amazing amount of work helping sponsor refugees through her church.
Marjorie was her usual quirky, peppy self at her 80th birthday party. She looked great! I was honoured to celebrate the birthday of such a long-term, dedicated and very special volunteer. Way, way back in the early 80s, when I first joined Amnesty’s Group 74, I had the pleasure of meeting her. When she introduced herself to me, she said “I’m a nobody”. She’s always been oblivious to hierarchies or political power. She has never been a president, chair, vice-chair or coordinator, hence calling herself “a nobody”. But in reality Marjorie is a Spectacular Somebody! She was always too busy doing the work to hold a position! Every time I went to a fundraiser, picnic, protest rally or celebration, there was Marjorie, year after year after year, patiently sitting at a table selling AI cards, books, crafts or T-shirts. And, by the way, if you ever want to know how to coordinate a committee, chair a group or organize a protest, ask Marjorie! She’ll steer you in the right direction.