Posts Tagged ‘Paul Caune’


Yesterday I wheeled in the Port Moody Centennial parade from City Hall to Rocky Point Park (and back again). Our group, Mossom Creek Hatchery together with Noons Creek Hatchery joined displayed our our colourful fish to draw attention to the salmon and the streams. It would have been impossible for me to walk as I am too slow on my feet. I would not have been able to keep up the pace so I decided to join in and use my manual wheelchair. I am still, despite my sporadic use of it, in my opinion, fairly fast in my chair. Not sure of the hills and obstacles, I asked my amazing friend, Ruth Foster, to walk with me in case I should need a helping hand.

Asked if Rick Hansen is my inspiration to use my manual chair so independently, I have to answer honestly, “No!” Of course Rick is in inspirational guy. Personally I am inspired by Paul Gauthier, the man who kept me from being sent to a nursing home for the crime of being disabled; by Paul Caune, who fights with every mechanical breath to make sure that no one with a disability will ever be in that position; and Adam Frost and young Jessica Kruger, who managed to obtain me a sports wheelchair in weeks when a year of grant applications at G.F. Strong failed.

My hope is to continue to change the world in any way I can by helping others, through environmental stewardship, by advocating for people with disabilities, by working through government – one meme at a time. I am grateful for the opportunity.


I very much enjoyed the experience of presenting. I realize, after the fact, just how much my left brain dominates.  Although I have a good understanding of how the artistic, right-brained individuals function, I am less tolerant of their function than I would like to be when it comes to what I perceive to be  “professional” events and functions. I am not sure if that is something I learned or if it is innate.

I wanted to (and was) on time for the meeting for the presenters. Part of me knew it would be foolish to worry about being on time for an “artsy event”  but that’s who I am (remember the left-brain dominance). The meeting did not occur and the person who called it did not arrive until forty-five minutes later. In fact the level of organization was just not the tight, structured,  Japanese, haiku-like form that is PechaKucha. So as I waited and watched for the show to begin, safely inhaling oxygen at 4 litres per minute (one of the presenters wore a LOT of fragrance), I experienced some cognitive dissonance. I so firmly believe that the production should be organized, should start on time, should be coordinated  professionally – after all people are paying to see the show. On the other hand the audience is happy, largely unaware that the media is not present, the photographer and film crew are absent, the meeting did not take place – they are more than happy.

Dissonance…tells more about me than the situation… “dissonance is reduced by justifying, blaming, and denying”.  I realize I have done all three. So while other people turn inward with nervousness, do I look outward…settling upon justification for the situation by noting that all went well despite the disorganization which I perceived?  The arts community pitched in and did what was needed. The audience was inspired. The focus was on the positive. The networking was amazing….and the feedback I received was great.

It seems that people were, on the whole,  inspired and motivated.

And when I reread “What makes a good PechaKucha” (it means chitchat in Japanese…) from the originator’s website, I know this whole thought process is something I need to continually work through…

“Good PechaKucha presentation are the ones that uncover the unexpected, unexpected talent, unexpected ideas. Some PechaKuchas tell great stories about a project or a trip. Some are incredibly personal, some are incredibly funny, but all are very different making each PechaKucha Night like ‘a box of chocolates’.”

It was a box of chocolates – there was something for everyone at PKN Coquitlam.

I was excited to see the PECHA KUCHA format for presentations. My tenant, Jay Peachy, was the very first presenter on Coquitlam’s very first PK night. He was brilliant. The whole event was exciting, fast-paced, interesting. Reminiscent of TED talks, but with the feeling of community and an artsy edge, I was immediately drawn in… I should do this, I thought.
So with Pecha Kucha VOLUME 4 looking for presenters, I volunteered, knowing what I wanted to say but not recognizing fully the limitations of the format. I am a teacher, thought I. Timing, meeting objectives, recognizing diverse listening styles…no problem…
As I began to prepare, I realized that I had a lot to say. Will it fit into the 20 x 20 format? PECHA KUCHA, the Japanese term for chitchat, is a simple idea (so they say). The presenter has 20 images with 20 seconds to speak to each image. The pace is rapid. OKAY, this works for design but I want to educate, elucidate, leave a powerful message that has my audience ready to, at the minimum, understand some changes they might need to make. But even better, I would like them to leave feeling the need to themselves advocate for change. Can I do that in less than seven minutes – telling my whole story with the pace imposed by the twenty second slide change? This really is a challenge. I am taking this art form and challenging it as well as myself to deliver.

That written, time to stop procrastinating and work on that timing…

Vancouver marked International Day for Persons with Disabilities with a ceremony celebrating their contributions to society. I marked it remembering…

Actually, the remembering was triggered by meeting Paul Caune in person last week on a very, very cold day. Paul is a man with focus. Focus is definitely what is needed to achieve goals. But Paul had something else, besides a wheelchair, which reminded me very much of my friend, Dr. Mark Dickson, who passed on, too suddenly, April 7, 2007.

Paul exuded a rare intelligence, combined with patience, and a genuine interest in others. I need to find a new vocabulary to describe these qualities which I saw in both Paul and Mark. I know that I would have taken great pleasure in introducing Mark and Paul…do I only pretend to live in the now? Wistfully I look backwards, because not only would Paul have enjoyed our very silly, intellectual games from Mark’s “Book of Difficult Words”, but the desperately needed social change for which Paul is advocating would not just resonate with Mark, it would have helped him; because even Dr. Dickson (BAMAPHD) was disempowered greatly by a system, that in the end reduced him to what was his body and NOT his mind.

The main reason for today’s post – to honour memories by taking action. Those people who have touched us in any way, small or large, become part of us, literally as we breathe in their air, and figuratively as we share their thoughts…

Mark’s eulogy, as spoken at his funeral… (thanks FIONA for still having it on your computer)

Mark Dickson…

Friend…philosopher…friend…..person with Friedreich’s Ataxia…friend….chess player….friend….gentleman…friend….DOCTOR….friend….mentor…
friend….son…friend… brother….friend…uncle….friend….friend….friend…friend…..

And so ran the theme of my thoughts about Mark…always a good friend…

Mark was very tolerant and modeled tolerance for me. When I spent time with him, I knew more what kind of a person I wanted to be,

This quote from Joseph Addison reminds me much of Mark’s demeanor:

It is only imperfection
That complains of what is imperfect.
The more perfect we are
The more gentle and quiet we become
Towards the defects of others.

I was proud of our friendship and as I thought about it I realize I had introduced many of MY FRIENDS and relatives to MARK.. the special ones..the ones who deserved to know him..because Mark was special and dear and kind and warm and thoughtful…and yes as our mutual friend Wendy said…very different in person than in his writing. Mark was NOT perfect but to me he was a perfect friend and I wish I had a chance to be a more perfect friend to him for a longer period of time as he was snatched from life before I had a chance to finish all the conversations and dreams I had for our friendship.

I was always fascinated by Mark’s ability with chess. Not so much that he could beat me as I am a mediocre chess player but I remember answering the phone at his house one day and someone saying into the phone Queen’s Knight to King’s Bishop Three or some such thing and I repeated the information to Mark who was engaged in earnest conversation with someone else at a social gathering…we held them regularly at Mark’s house in the good old days… He calmly replied with some other chess move which I repeated into the phone and he carried on with his conversation. I asked him later about it and he said he carried on several chess games with people…..his pieces only in his head. The others would phone in their moves every few DAYS! WHAT A BRAIN! WHAT A MIND! What a privilege to have had MARK DICKSON as a friend.

I have so many stories about MARK, but Mark would always choose to be fair and let everyone have a chance to speak and not let any one person be the only one to speak on a subject, so as my role model would have it, I will let another speak through my eulogy.

So the next memory is from Wendy O’Rourke.. She was living near Boston at the time and wasn’t sure she wanted to meet Mark but I dragged her to his house for one of these famous social gatherings. Wendy writes “On a visit to Elaine’s, she announced I was going to meet Mark, face to face, and I would see how wrong I was about him. I resented taking any of my time to visit a man I perceived as severely stuck on himself. I was SO wrong. Face to face, Mark was a warm and sensitive, sweet man, who loved a good discussion, especially one with opposing views. I learned his pride in his education was based on the inspiration his mother had provided. He told us, with his voice breaking, and tears in his eyes, that she had told him his body might fail him, but his education could never be taken away from him. He apologized for getting so emotional. As he spoke of his mother, her love for him and his for her, Elaine and I exchanged glances and knew how much it would mean, to us, for even one of our children to say anything about us, along the lines of what he had said about his mother. We would know we had done our job well!”

In closing, I would like to echo Wendy’s thoughts that Mark was a sensitive man. He was also a kind and fair human being. I remember well that soon after Rawnie Dunn announced that she could no longer attend BC ATAXIA SOCIETY meetings that if Rawnie couldn’t get to the BCAS then the BCAS would come to RAWNIE and we began having meetings at RAWNIE’S house in BURNABY. What a lovely principle considering how difficult it was for Mark to actually get to Rawnie’s place himself….

And the ultimate honour for me…Rawnie emailed after receiving news of Mark’s passing to tell me that Mark considered me to be one of his very dearest friends.

He is a perfect friend that will be dearly missed and fondly remembered….

So, for Mark, for myself, for the future and for what is right, I will work with Paul Caune to make Civil Rights Now!, his vision of political action. I will assist in the moving of disability rights from theory into practice, sooner and not later. Dr. Mark Dickson, BA, MA, PhD is with me still.

To learn more about CIVIL RIGHTS NOW!, read a speech delivered by Paul Caune on December 10th – click here.