Wings Beneath My Feet


As a member of CAILC’s Research and Programming Committee, I look forward with great anticipation to CAILC’s annual general meeting. For me, the highlight of the event is the segment when I get to meet, in person, the recipients of CAILC’s awards. Until this point, I have only known these people as names on a piece of paper, having read their profiles and accomplishments. As an academic who has both donated and accepted awards in the disability community, I can honestly say that I am most impressed by the calibre of the submissions presented annually to the Research and Programming Committee for evaluation. This year was no exception.

This was the third year for CAILC to present the John Lord Award for Excellence in Participatory Action Research (PAR). This year’s recipient is Thomas Shepherd, whose master’s thesis, “Getting to the Heart: The Role of Frontline Workers in Supported Living,” was completed at Carleton University in 2000.

Thomas’s work is a valuable contribution to research involving persons with disabilities. He studied the role of frontline workers in supported living through focus groups and individual interviews with a group of adult service users. The study described the roles being fulfilled by frontline workers and examined them to determine the extent to which they reflect the principles of supported living and the desires of service users.

This was the second year for CAILC’s Consumer Award of Excellence. Once again, we are very pleased that this award is sponsored by the Canadian Labour Congress.

This year’s worthy recipient was Jack Paterson of Thunder Bay, Ontario. Jack was nominated for this award by Alison Denton, Program Coordinator of Independent Living Resource Centre, Thunder Bay. Alison describes Jack as “a very special person” who shows, through his drive and determination, that “Independent Living is a philosophy that changes peoples’ lives.” Jack, who is 70 years young, was born with cerebral palsy, and has worked tirelessly to promote independence; he has just recently become a self-manager through the Direct Funding program after living a number of years in various care facilities in Thunder Bay.

Jack is also an advocate, a fundraiser and a poet. He has contributed to and assisted in the development of a book of poetry, Broken Wings, to help fund various projects, including the Wilderness Camp in Northwestern Ontario for persons with disabilities. In 1997, he provided a great deal of support to the Dave Shannon Cross Country Tour, which promoted Independent Living by providing dignity, opportunities and outcomes for persons with disabilities.

I opened the pages of Broken Wings the other evening and found the words of some of its contributors very inspiring. With 2002 upon us, it is time to reflect on the year behind us and anticipate the year ahead. In light of September 11 and what is happening in Israel and Afghanistan, our new year’s resolutions for peace and goodwill among men and women are that much more poignant. In Broken Wings, Jill Higgins’s poem, “What is My Worth,” which is dedicated to all persons with disabilities, addresses this point. It asks:

What is my worth
To a world so vast
If I could cast a stone
Into the pit,
Engrave my name
Into the sands of Time;
And look back and find
I have been of benefit to mankind.

It is important to realize that whatever we do in the disability community, never mind how small, can make a difference. The number of Independent Living Resource Centres (ILRCs) coming under the CAILC umbrella is increasing, and the work of ILRCs in the local community serves to promote the Independent Living philosophy across Canada. I wish you all a year filled with inspiration.

Please contact the CAILC office for nomination forms and updates on the above awards, along with the criteria for CAILC’s new Allan Simpson Award. Information is also available on our website, Jack Paterson can be reached through the ILRC in Thunder Bay, Ontario, (807) 577-6166.


Congratulations to ABILITIES Magazine on the occasion of your 50th issue. We are proud of our involvement with your publication and we applaud your continued efforts to help people with disabilities receive the information they need to help them reach their goals for Independent Living.


As of February 1, 2002, our new address is:
170 Laurier Ave. W., Ste. 1104
Ottawa, ON K1P 5V5
Please note: phone, fax and e-mail coordinates all remain the same.


Related Articles

Recent Articles

Complimentary Issue

If you would like to receive a free digital copy of this magazine enter your email.