Cherry Whitaker has been studying Chito-ryu karate since the late 1980. She became chief instructor of the New Glasgow karate club in 1993, as a brown belt. This was no small feat considering she only began training in her forties, and there were no other women in Nova Scotia who ran their own dojo. Cherry is a retired schoolteacher. She is an avid skier and naturalist. She is also a devoted wife, a proud mother, and grandmother. Most recently she has become the Education Chair at The Atlantic Therapeutic Touch Network which has a chapter in New Glasgow which is 15 minutes from her home in Salt Springs N.S.
Cherry Whitaker is a truly special individual. She is very smart and continues to seek out learning opportunities. She is a very caring individual and people tend to be attracted to her because of it. She is always trying to help people in any way she can. She is honest and sincere and if she gives you her word it is good as gold.
At one point, Cherry became president of the then Nova Scotia Karate Association, now Karate N.S. This would have been in the mid 90 to early 2000. At that time there was an individual in the organization who had their own agenda and did not act in the best interest of the association. This person had been a long-time member of the association and had attained some status at the national level. In their desire to promote themselves and members of their group this person had caused many good people from other styles to leave the association or cease to be active members.
At a national meeting in 1999, Cherry Whitaker stood up to this person causing them some embarrassment in front of their peers. In the end this person’s ego would not allow for reconciliation and they ended up leaving the association on very bad terms.
I do not know if Cherry had planned that she was going to do this or if, when the opportunity presented itself, she decided to take it. Either way, I believe that the heroic actions she took that day saved our association and marked the beginning of the many successes that would come in the years ahead. Until that point, we were in a serious decline with tournament participation having plummeted from 160 + participants down to a mere 60.
If Cherry had not shown the fortitude to do what needed to be done, I know my own personal karate journey would have looked a lot different, and not in a good way. I think many could say the same. We all owe Cherry Whitaker a debt of gratitude. I don’t think many people in Karate Nova Scotia are familiar with what happened at that meeting back in 1999. If they are, I doubt if they realize the significance or the magnitude of the ramifications that occurred because of those events. I for one will always remember and be grateful.
We did not always see eye to eye on things Cherry and I. We have butted heads on several occasions however, there was never any malice in her heart nor any intent to cause hardships for anyone. In the end she was always trying to do what was best. So, I came to realize that we are not that different. In fact, we are probably more the same than I would like to admit.
Cherry Whitaker is an inspiration to me to always stand up and do what is right and not walk away, even when many others would.