IN 1993, MORE THAN A QUARTER century ago, the Canadian Disability Hall of Fame held its inaugural induction ceremony.S ix remarkable inductees were honoured, both for their contributions to enriching the quality of life for people with physical disabilities and for the roles they played in helping advance the disability rights movement in Canada.
It’s worth remembering who they were:
Rick Hansen was selected in recognition of his 40,000-km Man in Motion World Tour, which he undertook to raise awareness of the abilities of people with disabilities and focus attention on the barriers they face.
Margaret McLeod was recognized for being a driving force behind development of the McLeod House,the first residential housing in Canada that was designed specifically for people with disabilities.
John Gibbons Counsell, who was paralyzed in the 1942 Dieppe Raid, founded the Canadian Paraplegic Association to give paraplegic and quadriplegic Canadians a united voice and a network of support.
Lt. Col. Edwin A. Baker, who lost his sight to a sniper’s bullet in the First World War,co-founded the CNIB in 1918. He launched prevention of blindness programs that have saved the sight of thousands of people.
Robert Wilson Jackson M.D., an orthopaedic surgeon, helped found the Canadian Wheelchair Sports Association and led the first Canadian team to compete in the Paralympics at TelAviv 1968.
Andre Viger, an acclaimed wheelchair racer,participated in five Paralympic Games, winning three gold, three silver and four bronze medals, and later started a wheelchair manufacturing company.
The scope and depth of the contributions made by these individuals to the betterment of life for people with disabilities is astonishing —and every year since, this being the 26th year, the Hall of Fame has added more inductees, equally remarkable, to its permanent exhibit at Toronto’s Metro Hall.
With today’s ceremony, the number of inductees rises to 114, and the Honourable Vim Kochhar, founder of the Disability Hall of Fame,said “we are as committed as ever to recognizing and celebrating the heroes of the disability rights movement, and we’ll keep doing so for as long as necessary, as long as the struggle goes on.”The fact that there are “so many inspirational people dedicated to the cause of inclusion and equality is a powerful source of hope for the future,” added Kochhar.
The Accessible Canada Act. He points to the newly minted Accessible Canada Act as an example of society moving in the right direction.
“We owe a great debt to each of the past inductees of the Disability Hall of Fame, as well as many others who have not yet been recognized or prefer to work behind the scenes, for the vital contributions they have made, directly and indirectly, to the passage of this historic legislation,” said Kochhar.
“Yes, there is much more to do, but the new act establishes a framework for advancement —and the arc of progress concerning disability rights is bending incontestably towards an era that will be more inclusive and just,”Kochhar said.
The Canadian Disability Hall of Fame is a public awareness building initiative of the Canadian Foundation for Physically Disabled Persons(CFPDP). Founded 36 years ago, CFPDP creates a nd supports a wide range of initiatives designed to improve the lives of people with physical disabilities.In its efforts, the organization consistently seeks to put the emphasis on a person’s abilities — rather than disabilities — and to recognize and celebrate their achievements and contributions to society.
On November 6, 2019, the CFPDP will host its 26th annual Canadian Disability Hall of Fame induction celebrations at Toronto’s Fairmont Royal York Hotel.
This year’s guest speaker is Dr. Charles H. Tator, professor of neurosurgery at University of Toronto. An officer of the Order of Canada, Dr. Tator is a world-renowned expert on sports concussions and spinal cord injury, prevention and treatment research. His research laboratory is dedicated tothe study of acute spinal injury models.
The 2019 Hall of Fame inductees include two incredible Paralympians, Bradley Bowden (para hockey and wheelchair basketball) and Richard Peter (wheelchair basketball), as well as congenital four-way amputee Tracy Schmitt, known as “Un-stoppable Tracy,” and Common-wealth Games Canada CEO Brian MacPherson, formerly CEO of the Canadian Paralympic Committee.
This year as every year, the host of the induction celebrations is the Honourable David Crombie, who is chairman of the Disability Hall of Fame and heads the Hall of Fame’s Selection Board. Crombie is a former Mayor of Toronto, Member of Parliament and Federal Cabinet Minister.
“It’s a great pleasure to be able to honour the achievements of the 2019 inductees” said Crombie.
“I’ve been doing this for 26 years, and each year our Selection Board does an incredible job of identifying individuals who are genuine heroes of our society. They standout for their accomplishments, and they inspire us all to be better citizens, neighbours and friends,” he said.
“Thanks to the contributions of this year’s extraordinary inductees — and all those who preceded them into the Hall of Fame — Canada isa better place with a brighter future for all of us, today and in the future,” Crombie said.