The final day of my arbitration was held on Thursday, December 10th, 2009 in Coquitlam, British Columbia. I was very impressed with the lawyer for the union (for ME!) as he presented the closing arguments for our case. It was clear that he had developed personal respect for me, a deep and persoanl respect for the environmental issues surrounding the case and ultimately a fine argument in law.

The experience, although harrowing over the years of waiting ,  was indeed INTERESTING and  if nothing else, good or bad,  SCHOOL DISTRICT 36  vs BC TEACHERS’ FEDERATION  ELAINE WILLIS -DUTY TO ACCOMMODATE will ultimately set a precedent in arbitration law.

And my lawyer truly did such a fine job in the end. The professionalism I couldn’t see at all in the beginning shone through in spades.  The beginning of the journey was extremely  rough – he didn’t, I feel, see me as a person – didn’t see past my disabilities. In the end he saw more than that. In the end there was, I believe, mutual respect. He recognized that I am a teacher and quoted me several times. I was touched. His words were sincere, eloquent and heartfelt – and if I taught one person about the environmental impact of chemicals as opposed to my need for a fragrance free workplace, then I did a good thing! So I have to be happy in the end, whatever the outcome.

The battles for those of us with disabilities, and especially for those of us with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, are huge. There are many false beliefs about our abilities and the nature of our disabilities. The truth remains that we are people, to be treated as all people, with dignity, equality and respect. We are not to be shut away in our homes as society continues to demand of us.

Education is enlightenment. I WILL CONTINUE TO BE A TEACHER!  This process may enable me to do so for a living as well!

  1. Pooh says:

    Courageous lady – you are truly ‘being the change you want to see in this world!’

  2. Vince Montgomery says:


    You never fail to impress. I look forward to seeing what you do when you run the world.


  3. Brenda Dixon says:

    Beautiful Elaine! You speak so eloquently.When do you hear the result?

  4. Clara Huset says:

    Wow can I relate. I remember being locked away in my home with air filters because of chemical sensitivity. People do not realize and many times would laugh at me telling me I was just trying to get attention. I remember once a young girl intentionally took a perfume sample and waved it in the air when she heard I could not be around anything as such. My cousin died just two years ago this Christmas because of such a thoughtless person. She didn’t make it to the hospital on time. I fortunately was able to get help.

    May this case bring a light to the people of the world.

  5. jeanneendo says:


    I heard about your story on The Canary Report. GOOD FOR YOU for fighting for your rights.

    I was saddened to read in Clara’s comment above about what happened to her cousin.

    I’ve had MCS since 1992 and I have a number of other chronic conditions as well.

    It is wonderful that your attorney learned from you and that his respect for you shone through when he argued the case in court!


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