Posts Tagged ‘salmon’

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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.

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I returned from a weekend at the SEP (Salmonid Enhancement Conference) in Campbell River delighted to have taken a ferry and visited Vancouver Island for the first time this century. My friend, Ruth, who reminded me it was the first time this millenium, is constantly running into former students who shout after her, “Mrs. Foster, Mrs. Foster, remember me!!!”

I was delighted to find the following response to an older BLOG POST when I arrived home; more than heartwarming, it verified the theme of a recent post about advocacy. By choosing to become a teacher, I chose to be an advocate.When I entered teaching, I had no idea it would be a good fit or my natural calling, but I am lucky these things were true. To have a positive impact on anyone’s life is really all one can hope for…

Mikki, in my mind’s eye, you are still that young girl. Yet your writing is clearly that of an articulate, strong, young woman. The impact of your few words lived on for days…still does. I have met many former students, but none that has shared this experience of being part of the “disabled community”. My mother (who can’t seem to grasp that I am 57 years old) constantly asks when I am going to write and publish a book – she so believes my writing skills to be a marketable talent. Somehow, finally, I understand how she feels. Your ability to write well, to express your thoughts with a few powerful words is so apparent. Impactful… Delightful… I think that might be a bit of pride…like what my mother tries to express to me.

Mikki (Cowling) Chartier said May 22, 2011

Elaine Willis,

You were my 3rd and 4th grade teacher back in the 1980s at Grosvenor Road Elementary School. After all these years and wondering what’s happening today, I found your blog. You are a gifted teacher, who showed far more compassion to a very shy and anxious disabled child than our soulless system has demonstrated to you. I was stunned to find out you developed ataxia and chemical sensitivities, but from your blog and The Hindsight Years, it’s clear you haven’t let it stop you.

It was a privilege to have had such a wonderful human being as a teacher. You valued each and every student as individuals, genuinely cared about us and what we were learning. Nearly thirty years on, I still remember how you read stories to the class and didn’t underestimate our ability to understand the themes. How you played “Clouds”–Both Sides Now–by Anne Murray. I remember learning about technology in the computer lab with the Apple ][ and when you took the class on a field trip where we learned about computer programming at a real university! You made the experience magical to a nine year old child who never forgot your kindness, passion for teaching, and your patience.

I just wanted to say thank you.

Jay Peachy

Sometimes you get the tenant you need and sometimes you get the tenant who needs you. Life is like that, full of give and take. I am grateful for both.

Jay came to me after a difficult time. My new suite had been vacated by me very dear tenant (who had been so helpful – he’s family now but that’s another story) when the developer of the adjacent lands cut off access to my property.

The most important criterion for becoming my tenant is being scent and chemical free. A long round of emails confirmed that Jay  was a good communicator, willing to completely give up the use of all scent and chemical products and delighted to find a space that would allow his dog. I agreed to meet him.

There were a number of applicants but something drew me to this man with no references, a strange affect, no job and clearly no money for the deposit …and our relationship began: landlord- tenant; advocate-client; employer-attendant; patron-artist; neighbour-neighbour; friend-friend. There were and are many more aspects to our relationship. I know that this was the place where he was meant to heal and evolve more fully into Jay Peachy, the artist. And clearly, although he is not the tenant I anticipated, one who could be the helper I needed for my physical challenges – do not get the idea it is a one way street.

Jay is an amazing attendant when I go to medical appointments and need someone to guard me against reactions to chemical exposure. He has twice administered the epipen and numerous times supplied oxygen when required. He’s amazing and was once asked in a medical setting if he was a nurse when he deftly saved my life.

But here in Anmore, “Nature’s Home” as Dr. Lynn Burton and I are determined to label this beautiful community, Jay has healed and blossomed. Yes, he still has bipolar disorder. But now he has safety nets in place, a home community, the courage to stand up and face the world fighting the stigma, LABEL clearly pasted on his forehead, and help others tirelessly through his artistic genius.

He has become a volunteer at Mossom Creek Hatchery just below our home, connected with salmon enhancement and conservation and swallowed that into his art and essence. He hosts a radio show, Sound Therapy Radio on CJSF and has now won awards for his efforts. His standup comedy is just another of his artistic endeavours.  Jay Peachy brought Art in the Garden to Anmore with a group of enthusiastic volunteers inviting the support and promotional assistance of the Tri-City Arts Connect Umbrella.

Twenty-four months ago, this young man could not get himself out of bed. He was defeated by a disease and a system. One hand up, a lot of nature and living with his faithful dog companion, Star, and he didn’t just come back, he’s bringing others with him and showing them the way.