As we approach the end of another year, I wanted to drop by and share my thoughts with you and for this year I’d like to use some words of wisdom that were sent to me by a very special lady; Denise Sanders and she did this when I was president of the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians.
“In every journey there is meaning.
In every conflict, there is growth.
In every action, there is purpose.
In every moment of doubt,
Remember to believe!”
Very strong words sent to me by a very powerful lady and these are ones that I shall treasure always.
As I look back on 2019, I think that the best way for me to describe this year would be to say that it was filled with hope and expectations. Some were realized but others failed to cross the finish line.
I was truly humbled to have been a part of the initiative to see the safe passage of Bill C-81 and although there are some who believe that this bill is not powerful enough; I for one truly believe that finally! We have meaningful legislation in place and now we need to build on it. I personally thank the Honourable Minister Carla Qualtrough, Senator Jim Munson, Prime Minister Trudeau, and all of those organizations and individuals who gave so selflessly of their time and energy to make this a reality.
June 21 will always be etched in my mind and despite my not having been there physically, I followed every step to Royal assent with tears of joy and gratitude that this precious historic day was realized.
I also learned this past year that whereas on the whole there are those entities whose lawyers continue to believe that bullying tactics are the best way to deprive complainants of their rights; there are some who think otherwise. I thank Dianne Wintermute, Chris Piggott, and Sarah Hart for having helped to show this side of the legal system and to help me to keep on believing.
Unfortunately, it has not been the same in the case of certain other entities and I can only hope that come 2020 the Ontario Government along with certain Ontario entities would take action to ensure that the rights of persons with disabilities are recognized and protected.
Despite the efforts of entities such as Elections Canada, the CHRC, and the CTA to be proactive and to be good government citizens with regard to helping to protect and recognize the rights of persons with disabilities, I believe that there is still so much work to be done in order to break down attitude barriers, other types of artificial barriers, and more.
I also saw where the voices of blind and vision impaired Canadians continued to be ignored and left out of collaboration and round table discussions. Examples of this raised their ugly heads when I witnessed first hand how some organizations and individuals who were given hefty Federal Government grants to foster collaboration amongst organizations representing the voices and needs of Canadians with disabilities failed to include the voices and requirements of blind and vision impaired Canadians. This continues to be a grave concern to me and a huge disappointment and I can only hope that this starts to change for 2020.
In June 2019; I probably suffered one of the greatest personal losses when one of my dearest mentors, teachers, coaches, and friend Chris Stark passed on so tragically and unexpectedly. Chris was probably Canada’s finest advocate when it came to standing up for the rights of blind and vision impaired Canadians. He gave selflessly and never ignored my calls for help! He gave generously and his time was always someone else’s time.
His accomplishments are so many; from having helped to bring the talking ATM to Canada, to his tireless work with guide dogs and guide dog users, to continually challenging organizations such as the CHRC, the CTA, the CRTC, Elections Canada and Elections Ontario, Air Canada, and others to respect the rights of blind and vision impaired Canadians.
I’ll never forget you Chris and I promise to always keep your memory on the radar. I will strive to not disappoint you as I know that you will be watching closely from your seat in the deep blue horizon! I can just hear your voice coaching and advising me now! Thank you for having come into my life!
I am grateful for what I have and what I can share! I am truly thankful for calling Canada my home! A country that is rich in generosity, caring, and a willingness to listen and provide a happy abode for those who seek shelter from wars, hardships, and lives that are so difficult to live.
I live in a country where running water is not a luxury. I live in a country where food is plentiful and technology gives me the opportunity to earn a daily living, to communicate with friends and family, and most of all I have freedom of speech. I live in a country that I am proud to call my home and I recognize that yes! Canada is not perfect but it is the best place to live!
I look forward to continuing my work in 2020. To be working with the Apple Corporation. To my work as an advocate working on the know your rights project with the CNIB. To continued work with Aaron Diblasi and Mindvault Solutions on my various projects for my company. To further collaboration with entities such as Elections Canada, the CTA, and the CHRC.
Most of all; to continue my initiatives to ensure that every child counts! That is, to ensure that blind and vision impaired kids are not left out!
I must not forget to express a special bouquet of gratitude to my dear friend Jilla who helped me to make a dream come true; she and I spent some priceless hours in early February when I visited Liverpool to reconnect with my cousins Lorraine and her daughter, Mark, Carl and Tom, and my aunt Angie and cousin Sally and her boyfriend Joe. I shall always remember this visit and be eternally grateful that I got this rare opportunity to embrace my family!
It is not very often when a friend goes out of their way to ensure that a visit is as perfect as possible and this is what Jilla did for me. She picked me up at Gatwick Airport, took me to her welcoming home, drove with me to Windermere the next day, stayed with me for two days at a chess tournament, returned to fetch me a few days later and then drove me to Liverpool to meet my family. Then she drove me back to London and made sure that I was homeward bound to Canada the following day.
What was most special is that Jilla and my cousin Lorraine accompanied me on some special trips to the Liverpool Cathedral and to Christopher Grange! Thank you Jilla!
To all of my friends and family! I thank you from the bottom of my heart and a special thanks to the board of Barrier Free Canada for your continuing commitment! For it is only through you and with you that we will continue to fight the good fight!
With very best wishes for 2020,