ODA Committee Update
June 2, 2002
A WONDERFUL CONTRIBUTION TO THE FIGHT FOR A BARRIER-FREE ONTARIO
ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT COMMITTEE UPDATE
June 2, 2002
Over the past seven and a half years, 1.5 million Ontarians with disabilities have benefitted by so many people across this province taking it upon themselves to make their own unique kinds of contributions to our fight to achieve a barrier-free Ontario. Today, we want to let you know about one wonderful example.
Michael Lewis is a a great guy, a London resident, a passionate ODA supporter, a talented musician, and happens to be blind. He is also today in a very precarious and bleak health situation. He is fighting a valiant, evidently unwinnable battle against cancer. We understand that things look quite bad for him.
Michael has given us all a gift derived from his talents. He has written a song entitled "Still Waiting." It expresses his deep commitment to achieve a barrier-free Ontario for persons with disabilities. He has performed and recorded this song, and has had a video produced.
We encourage you to yourself benefit from this song and video. "Still Waiting" - the video and the song can be accessed at the following website:http://www.atn.on.ca/
Please encourage others to check out this song and video. We understand that steps are being taken to improve the video and audio quality, as these have just been posted in the past few days. If you want a copy of the lyrics of the song, send your request to: firstname.lastname@example.org
We set out below the text of a TV item that recently aired in the London area about Michael and this song, and an article that recently appeared in the London Free Press about it.
ODA Committee Chair David Lepofsky has recently spoken to Michael by phone, and has expressed our deep appreciation for all Michael has done and is doing for the ODA movement, including his work on this song and video. Michael was told that this song has been and will be an inspiration to all of us.
We encourage you to send your feedback for Michael care of our London ODA
Committee Regional Contact Cathy Vincent Linderoos at: email@example.com
Cathy Vincent Linderoos has kindly agreed to pass the feedback on to Michael's
wife Kathy, so that it can be shared with Michael.
TEXT OF RAISING CANE
A TV NEWS ITEM THAT AIRED IN LONDON AREA ON "THE NEW PL" ON MAY 22 AND 23, 2002
People with disabilities are Still Waiting.
It's been more than 20 years since Ontario Human Rights Code and Canadian
Charter of Rights included disabilities.
Since International Year of Disabled Persons.
Two decades later...we're Still Waiting.
Still Waiting for basics... like accessible washrooms in public places. For
fair employment opportunities. For adequate transportation. For doors to open.
Still Waiting is the title of a powerful music video, written and [performed]
by blind London musician, Michael Lewis. Although two decades of betrayal and
broken promises are nothing to sing about, Lewis does just that in his frank
and candid style, with involvement of many local advocates.
(Incorporate about 30 seconds from Still Waiting here).
Still Waiting will premiere at the National Access Awareness Week Conference in
London May 30. To register or to order copies, call 519-433-7950.
This is Lynne Swanson and Gladys Raising Cane for News Now.
London Free Press Monday, May 20, 2002
Advocates still waiting
Michael Lewis' music video Still Waiting captures the spirit of people with
PosAbilities BY LYNNE SWANSON
Special to The Free Press
They're Still Waiting. But, people with disabilities are a determined and
tenacious bunch who won't give up and go away.
Blind London musician Michael Lewis wants to make sure others know that. So, he
wrote a and produced a music video, Still Waiting, with many local advocates in
Still Waiting is the "culmination" of a series of three disability-issue songs
by Lewis. The others are There Oughta Be A Law and We Do Too.
Lewis says people with disabilities have heard "rhetoric" and promises from all
levels of governments and all political parties for more than 20 years.
As those promises were broken, hopes for a more accessible world were dashed.
Lewis says the most recent example was the 1995 written promise of an Ontarians
with Disabilities Act (ODA) by then-premier Mike Harris. Although a form of an
ODA was finally passed late last year, Lewis says "its still a betrayal" and an
"abomination" of what was pledged. The act includes only one of 11 principles
that were passed unanimously in the provincial legislature two years earlier.
Lewis believes this ODA will do little to remove the many barriers faced by
people with disabilities.
While Lewis and others know some obstacles have been eliminated and some
advances made, Still Waiting reflects frustration and outrage at how much
remains to be done.
Yet, there's still optimism, too.
As Lewis sings in Still Waiting, he is "amazed that hope and courage is alive."
Lewis says he is "always amazed at the whole human spirit, the desire of people
who spearheaded the movement . . . given the disappointments . . . given the
brushoffs and the rudeness of governments, in particular, but business, too.
There are days I'm amazed people are still willing to go out there and live
lives with a bit of dignity and make a living. I'm always amazed they're still
willing to fight these political battles. And they're not over."
Still Waiting will premiere as part of National Access Awareness Week 2002
Empowerment and Action Day on May 30.
Regrettably, Lewis won't be there. The longtime disability rights activist is
waging his biggest battle ever. Since being diagnosed with a rare
gastrointestinal stromal tumour a couple of months ago, Lewis has been fighting
for his life.
Lewis knows things don't look good. At 52, with a wife and teenage son, Lewis
"feels profoundly cheated . . . I have plenty left that I planned to do, in
politics, professionally and personally. Right now, I probably won't be around
to help fight whatever battle needs to be fought. "In terms of my family . . .
where do you begin in terms of what you're not going to see? I wanted to grow
old with my wife and be an old married codger couple and sit out on the porch
and drink lemonade and gossip about the neighbours and be political activists.
I'm not going to get to do that and I feel cheated.
"But, there's no guarantees in terms of life being fair, but it doesn't mean I
have to like it.
"On the other hand, I'm still fighting with everything I've got left. The idea
of rolling over and giving up is as repulsive to me as just letting the tumour
"Giving up is not in my nature. It never has been. My whole life has revolved
around beating the odds -- being independent and fighting to live my own life.
I'm a fighter. I'd rather go down fighting."
FOR MORE INFO
To register for National Access Awareness Week Empowerment and Action Day or to order a copy of STILL WAITING, call (519) 433 - 7950.
London Free Press May 24, 2002
Production info incorrect
Michael Lewis wrote and performed the song Still Waiting for the music video by
the same name. The video was produced by Allen Kool of Backstreet
Communications and Vicki Mayer of ATN. Incorrect information appeared in
Monday's PosAbilities column. The Free Press regrets the error.
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Last updated June 2, 2002