Friday, March 27, 2009


Here is a story for those who despair at the dismal employment statistics for people with disabilities. Yesterday THE HOPE LADY went to North Battleford to speak about hope at a conference sponsored by the RCMP Regional Victims’ Services. It is, to say the least, a little inconvenient for a conference committee to hire a blind speaker for a North Battleford conference. It’s not a place you can fly to, and taking a taxi there from Saskatoon would be financially prohibitive. You’d want to hire speakers who could drive. But hope is a sought-after topic, and I have found over the years that Saskatchewan is home to highly creative conference committees who find ways to deal with the situation.
In this instance a salt-of-the-earth fellow named Clay was waiting for me at the airport. The moment we met I knew we were going to be friends. Did I want a coffee or a snack before we got on the road? Was there anything else he could do for me? Just let him know if I needed him to stop the car so that my aching back could go for a walk. He has a bad back too and he knows that you just can’t go on when a back makes up its mind to spasm. And why don’t I just take the whole box of tissues from the car, since it’s clear that my purse can’t possibly be big enough to support enough tissues to soak up the flood from my cold for a whole day.
Says Clay, when I remark on his talent for guiding a blind person, “I am getting a little practice. Yesterday I drove Gord Paynter.”
Here is a committee that didn’t stop at one blind speaker. Gordon Paynter is a blind man from Ontario who makes a living as a stand-up comic. Undaunted by obstacles, the committee had hired him the previous evening as the banquet entertainer for this same conference.

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