CCD Awards: NEADS board members recognized for outstanding service!

We would like to inform all NEADS members, and our partner schools/organizations, that the 2001/2002 Council of Canadians With Disabilities (CCD) Awards were announced at the CCD meeting in Winnipeg in June. Each year, the Council presents awards to deserving representatives of its member groups. Rachael Ross, British Columbia Representation and Sanjeet Singh, Open Rep. and Vice-President External were recognized from our Association for their outstanding service to the Canadian disability community. Sanjeet is currently the Chairperson of our 2002 Conference Planning Committee. Rachael organized a highly successful Student Leadership and Employment Forum in Victoria this past March, 2002. Both are very active members of our Board who have represented the association at many conferences and meetings.

Susan Vida, NEADS' Quebec Representative and our member on the CCD national council, presented the awards -- two beautiful plaques -- to Rachael and Sanjeet during the NEADS board of directors meeting in Ottawa on the second weekend of July. Congratulations Rachael and Sanjeet! Many thanks for your hard work and dedication to the issues of post-secondary students with disabilities.

What follows are bios written by Rachael and Sanjeet respectively:

Rachael Ross:

Disability: this word has meant many different things to me over the years, both personally and politically. My personal experience with disability began at the age of eight when I acquired an autoimmune disease called Juvenile Dermatomyositis. Then, Disability meant disease for me, and associated with that was pain and a struggle to accept a body that no longer felt like mine. This changed life experience brought new realizations, far beyond the struggle I was facing with my illness. I began to see how being disabled was not only a physical state brought on by my illness, but it was a social state brought on by society. Disability in my life then became political, and the political and personal could now be dealt with separately.

After abandoning my first year of university studies in the Sciences because of a conscious disregard of my need to solve my struggles through the Medical Model, I found the niche I was looking for in Sociology. And now at 23 years old I will be entering my forth year at the University of Victoria majoring in Sociology. My academic goal is to go on and achieve my Ph.D. in Sociology and teach at the university level. This desire to teach has manifested itself in years of activism, teaching, and consulting on disability issues, sitting as an elected or appointed member on various boards (such as the NEADS BC Representative), and working on related issues such as poverty, gender equality, sexuality, and access to education. My passion to participate in a progressive national and global disability rights movement is constantly being fuelled by the injustices I know exist, but also by the inspirational people I have had the pleasure to have met, learned of, and have reaped the benefits of their struggle for equal access. Politically, I now see "disability" as a label that can hold pride and power.

Sanjeet Singh:

I was born in Fiji and was the first visually impaired person to attend the University of South Pacific (USP) located in Suva, Fiji. My dream was to be an Electrical Engineer, however, Fiji did not have any programs for Electrical Engineering so the only available places were Australia, New Zealand or Canada. I chose Canada because it was the least expensive place in terms of tuition and living expenses. I have finally completed a BSc in Electrical engineering with a sixteen month internship at Nortel Networks. I am currently enrolled in an MSc program in Geomatics Engineering. I would not be able to come this far if it was not for the help and generous support from my parents, uncle and aunt, my friends, professors, the staff at the Disability Resource Centre who provided me with the adaptive technology needed for my education and most importantly almighty God for his/her blessing.

While at University of Calgary, I was involved on an executive level with campus based groups like Triple-A (Association for Accessibility and Awareness), Electrical Student Council and IEEE (Institute for Electrical and Electronic Engineers). I was given the gold award by the Student Union for making positive contributions on campus.

I was elected as an open rep with NEADS at our 2000 conference. It was indeed an honour to be elected onto the NEADS board of directors. I was so excited that I could hardly sleep for a week. I am also the VP-Internal and the Conference chair for our 2002 National Conference Opening Doors to Success. I have been involved in a number of conferences since my election, including a consultation on the World Conference Against Racism, in Ottawa and a conference held by CAUCUSS in Montreal. In March, I chaired the employment panel during the Student Leadership and Employment workshop in Victoria. I also attended a meeting as an advisory board member held in Winnipeg for the current transition from school to work project of the Canadian Centre on Disability Studies.

My advice to everyone is that, the key to success is stay motivated, have a great personality, and believe that everything is possible. I believe in no boundaries and no one but yourself can stop you from attaining success that you rightfully deserve. Dreams come true if you work hard.