Living with a rare iLLnessConquering invisible disabilities Can
be amongst the greatest Challenges, but its possible!
ParaLymPian Josh vander vies | adventurer sPencer west
Fall 2013 | JoBpostings.Ca
Feature19 Living with a rare iLLness Rare diseases affect over
300 million people worldwide, but there is still a stigma around
unknown conditions. We examine the difficulties associated with
having a rare disease and shed light on this shadowed kind of
the Front Pages06 success stories Nicola Chivers, HR analyst at
TD Bank Group, talks ideas and enthusiasm to fulfil your goals.
08 getting outta here Going abroad is certainly more of a
chal-lenge for people with disabilities, but with organization,
research, and motivation, anything is possible.
10 the home advantage The Canadian government is investing time
and money into programs for all people. Find out how you can
insPiration12 water doLLar disaBiLity Mountain climber Spencer
West was born with sacral genesis but doesnt let it stop him. Read
on to hear his incredible tale of scaling Kilimanjaro to raise
funds for water in Africa.
16 reaching your PotentiaL Born without arms and legs, Josh
Vander Vies has become an inspirational figure, playing boccia for
the Canadian national team, triumphing over his disability in every
aspect of his life.
THE FRONT PAGEStable oF Contents
JoBpostings.Ca | Fall 2013
THE FRONT PAGES ad indeX
indeXPuBLisher nathan laurie [email protected]
associate PuBLisher mark laurie [email protected]
communications and ProJect manager david tal [email protected]
editor James miChael mCdonald [email protected]
art director anthony Capano acapa[email protected]
deveLoPer mishraz ahmad bhounr [email protected]
contriButors kate aenlle, angelina attisano, Jamie bertolini,
lauren della vedova, nailah king, hillary di menna, laura eley,
kyle reynolds, megan santos, sam Weltman
nationaL account manager mary vanderpas
education account manager shannon traCey
Brand amBassador bernie [email protected]
photos from istockphoto.com are used throughout this issue;
individual artists have been credited.
masthead contactwhoshiringiFc td bank Financial group02
FintraC07 imperial oil
07 export development Canada11 Canadian pacificoBc the home
schooLindeX18 humber, the school of business, Continuing
generaLads03 neads 05 awake Chocolate15 Canadas luckiest
student23 Career edge24 scholarships CanadaibC insurance institute
WANT A PART-TIME JOB THAT DOESNT
SUCK?Dont limit yourself to working
at the corner store. Visit Jobpostings.ca for
the latest positions from Canadas top employers.
Want to make a difference?FINTRAC is recognized as a leader
among the worlds financial intelligence units. Join the fight
against terrorist financing and money laundering!
To learn more about FINTRAC and its employment opportunities,
Vous voulez faire une diffrence? CANAFE est reconnu comme tant
un chef de file parmi les units de renseignement financier autour
du monde. Joignez-vous CANAFE dans la lutte contre le financement
des activits terroristes et le blanchiment dargent!
Pour en savoir plus sur CANAFE et ses possibilits demploi,
veuillez consulter le http://www.canafe-fintrac.gc.ca
published by passion inc. 25 imperial street, suite 100 toronto,
on m5p 1b9
jobpostings.ca 1-877-900-5627 ext. 221
Jobpostings publishes its (dis)ability issue annually. it is
distributed to over 105 universities and colleges in Canada.
Contents of this publication are protected by copyright and may not
be reprinted in whole or part without permission of the
success is to be measured not so much by the position that one
has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome.
booker t. Washington
Canadas portal to awardsand scholarships for
students with disabilities
JoBpostings.Ca | Fall 2013
THE FRONT PAGES editors note
We all face challenges. There are plenty of typical obstacles:
getting good grades, finding the right job, dealing with difficult
coworkers, even making the perfect omelette! Unfortunately, some of
us have more challenges than others, daily struggles to
Growing up with a disability isnt easy. Simple tasks that
able-bodied people overlook can be a constant burden for people
with disabilities. These troubles, big or small, can give us reason
to hesitate and limit ourselves. Because of this, many people with
disabilities are only using a small portion of their
The reason behind this issue is to motivate you to do more and
to show you that nothing is impossi-ble. Struggles, for the
able-bodied or for people with disabilities, give each person a
unique perspective on the world and the chance to rise above their
challenges using their own experience and abilities.
In the pages to follow, we speak to a number of incredible
indi-viduals with disabilities that have achieved greatness,
pushing past their obstacles to compete in the Paralympics, travel
the world, and even climb Mount Kiliman-jaro. We look at rare
diseases in an attempt to shed light on an often overlooked kind of
disabil-ity. Weve also included informa-
Push your Limits
tion on financial opportunities for people with disabilities to
ensure everyone has a fair shot at a stable future.
Although the people interviewed have gone on to do amazing
things and live fulfilling lives, we believe everyone has the
ability for greatness; sometimes we just need the inspiration to
out. Hopefully this issue provides you with the needed boost to
push your limits and conquer your own Kilimanjaro.
From the desk of James Michael McDonald
JoBpostings.Ca | Fall 2013
success storiesWondering how to get to the top? read on to find
out how this young
professional is succeeding in the business world.
What drew you to HR within the financial services industry?The
HR program at York University caught my interest for many reasons:
the courses aligned well with my per-sonality, and there was an
abundance of specialization avenues, but with a defined career and
How did you find your current position?I joined TD as part of an
Ability Edge Internship (Career Edge Organiza-tion) in which I
completed several ro-tational assignments across Corporate HR. I
was initially offered a contract position with the Learning
Technol-ogy team, which I gladly accepted. Several months later, I
was invited to join the Talent Management team in a permanent
position as a Specialized HR Analyst.
Tell us a bit about your responsibilities.My duties have evolved
as I joined the team in the middle of an ongoing implementation
project. Initially, the focus was to deliver, pro-mote, and
transition knowledge from our testing team to the frontline users
and long-term support team. Recent-ly, Ive been working with
business leaders to provide analytic measures of success,
challenge, and opportu-nity.
Whats the most challenging aspect of your position?Managing
expectations and staying on track. In a large corporate
environ-ment, the stream of emails is constant and it is a
challenge to determine and communicate which requests align to the
teams objectives, and to balance my ability to provide assistance
with my capacity to do so.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?Resolving problems,
whether that in-volves sharing technical knowledge,
troubleshooting computer issues, or delivering solutions to
business part-ners through more formal project work.
What do you think it takes to be successful in this
career?Passion for learning combined with do-it-yourself enthusiasm
and undy-ing persistence. When given a task, always do some
background research before going back with questions. This keeps
you informed and your manager will appreciate the higher-level
questions and the ideas you can now contribute.
Any future career aspirations?My ideal position would involve
idea generation. I excel at brainstorming and enjoy the challenge
of analyzing a tricky situation and offering poten-tial
game-changing solutions. Id also like to be a mentor, offering
insight to inspire, influence, and shape perspec-tives of newer
Any advice you have for students looking to land their first
job?Enthusiasm is your greatest asset; al-ways focus on
possibilities, not road-blocks. If your brain is focused on the
reasons it wont work, it doesnt think of ways it could. Know what
makes you unique, infuse this trait into your elevator speech and
use it to articu-late your worth when asked Why should we hire
nicoLa chiverscomPany: td bank group
Position: hr analyst
emPLoyed: 2 years
degree: honours in bachelor of human resources management
THE FRONT PAGES suCCess stories
Theres more than one way to make a difference. Thats why at
Imperial Oil we offer multiple career paths that align with your
ambitions. From developing new innovations in the oil sands to
delivering high quality petroleum products, whatever your career,
youll always have a place on a team thats working towards creating
a better future.
Hiring students and graduates from engineering, science,
business and trades & technology.
Discover whats possible for your career.
www.edc.ca/careers | www.edc.ca/carrieres
Export Development Canada | Exportation et Dveloppement
Interested in international trade, global markets and the impact
of Canadian exports? EDC offers you a unique and rich opportunity,
and is recognized as a global centre for trade expertise. Our
employees are among the most accomplished trade experts in the
What we look for: Bachelor of Commerce/Business Administration
and/or MBA with a concentration in Finance, Accounting,
International Business or related field (Sales, IT, HR etc.);
individuals who have a desire to work in a fast-paced environment
with competing priorities and deadlines; ability to interpret
financial statements and strong analytical skills; commitment to
providing excellent customer service; ability to communicate
effectively in both official languages and must be legally eligible
to work in Canada (Canadian Citizen or Permanent Resident).
EDC is committed to employment equity and actively encourages
applications from women, Aboriginal people, persons with
disabilities and visible minorities.
Vous vous intressez au commerce international, aux marchs
mondiaux et aux rpercussions des exportations canadiennes? EDC vous
offre alors la chance de vivre une exprience riche et unique. En
effet, EDC est un centre dexpertise du commerce extrieur reconnu
lchelle mondiale, et nos employs sont au nombre des plus grands
spcialistes du domaine.
Ce que nous recherchons : baccalaurat en commerce/Administration
des affaires et/ou MBA (finances, comptabilit, affaires
internationales) ou dans un domaine connexe (ventes, RH,
informatique etc.); dsir de travailler dans un milieu affair, o les
priorits peuvent tre divergentes, et les chances, serres; trs bon
esprit danalyse et capacit dinterprter des tats financiers;
engagement fournir un excellent service la clientle; aptitude
communiquer dans les deux langues officielles et aptitude lgale
travailler au Canada (citoyen canadien ou rsident permanent).
EDC souscrit au principe de lquit en matire demploi et invite
les femmes, les Autochtones, les personnes handicapes et les
membres dun groupe de minorits visibles poser leur candidature.
JoBpostings.Ca | Fall 2013
getting outta here
experience the most during your time abroad.
Making the decision to study abroad isnt always easy. There are
lots of things to consider like finances and how prepared you are
to live in a foreign country. The decision can be made even more
difficult when you have to take your disability into
One way to ease your transition into a foreign country is to try
and learn the language of the country youll be going to. Although
this is not a
specific disability-related tip, know-ing the official language
is extremely helpful. You dont have to be fluent, but learning some
basic phrases can go a long way if you should ever need
Before you start packing away lan-guage books, there are some
other things you should make sure youve coveredfor instance,
finding out what studying is like in the country youll be
Uwe Hahnewald, a business admin-istration student, is visually
impaired. When he decided to go to a different country to study, he
made sure to do his research upfront.
I like to know a little bit about where I am going, he says. I
familiarized myself with the subway and bus sys-
tem, or which shops are in the area I am living in.
Getting to know the neighbourhood and city youll be living in
can be a great help in making a smooth transi-tion into your new
surroundings. Do-ing research can also give you an idea of how
accessible certain areas are, as well as what the public
transporta-tion system is like, should you require something like
Torontos Wheel-Trans service.
According to Melissa Nisbett, com-munications manager with the
Cana-dian Bureau for International Educa-tion (CBIE), students can
find out in advance what kind of environment theyll be in by
speaking directly with the schools that they plan on attending.
Institutions can provide assessment
THE FRONT PAGES studying abroad
Fall 2013 | JoBpostings.Ca
tests for students to identify issues and follow up with
students to identify the best locations for each student, she says.
Students can do their own re-search for institutions by contacting
the accessibility office, or the inter-national student offices of
the places they are interested in.
Hahnewald agrees. Get in touch with the school to see whether
they offer disability services and what kind of accommodations they
offer. If pos-sible, try to get a hold on a former disabled student
who can share their experiences with you.
Speaking with students like Hahn-ewald and getting a feel for
what life in a foreign country will be like for someone who has a
disability is a great way to get the next best thing to a
first-hand experience. Knowing
what youre in for before you get on a plane might also make the
decision to stay or go much easier.
Hahnewald also recommends making a trip to the city where your
school is, as studying abroad is a long-term decision and,
sometimes, you just need to experience things for your-self. He was
fortunate enough to have vacationed in the country where he studied
so he had an idea of what life would be like for him if he lived
Getting assistance from organizations well before you get to
your new loca-tion. Organizations like CBIE, for example, encourage
their over 150 members, (which include colleges, universities, and
partner organiza-tions), to serve vulnerable groups in-cluding
individuals with visible/non visible disabilities.
We also provide sessions for our members on the best practices
for stu-dent placements at our annual confer-ence, says Nisbett.
Our members prepare their students through assess-ments with either
the international student office or accessibilities office.
There are many other organizations out there that assist
students with dis-abilities to achieve their post-second-ary
education goals, like the National Educational Association of
Disabled Students (NEADS). They encourage the self-empowerment of
post-sec-ondary students with disabilities, and advocates for
increased accessibility at all levels so that disabled students may
gain equal access to college or universi-ty education, which is
their right. Or-ganizations like NEADS may also be beneficial to
students with disabilities, since NEADS board members are all
consumers with disabilities, with the exception of the open
When making the decision to study abroad, students may overlook
travel accommodations. Queens University, for example, produced a
fact sheet for students with disabilities hoping to study abroad
that outlines everything you need to know before you pack your
bags. It includes links to guides, videos, mailing lists, and other
re-sources from reputable organizations in this field like
Transitions Abroad, as well as region-specific resources.
Uprooting yourself to study abroad is arguably one of the most
exciting and challenging experiences for a stu-dent. Hahnewald, who
had a great experience studying abroad, recom-mends that other
students who want to do the same give it a shot and not let their
disability determine whether or not they should go. I recommend
studying abroad because it expands your horizons, he says. I think
con-fidence, organization, and research is everything [if you want
to study abroad]. The more I know upfront, the easier it was. |
JoBpostings.Ca | Fall 2013
Supporting people with disabilities is an essential part of
ensuring that they have bright and promising futures, es-pecially
when it comes time for them to find employment. The Government of
Canada is taking steps to ensure that people with disabilities meet
their career goals, through the Canadian Economic Action Plan.
Last year, they invested an additional $30 million over three
years in an opportunities fund. According to the Ca-nadian Economic
Action Plan, this investment will en-able more Canadians with
disabilities to obtain work expe-rience with small- and
medium-sized businesses, as well as raise awareness among employers
of the contribution people with disabilities can make to their
business, and en-courage them to hire people with disabilities.
In a news release from the Human Resources and Skills
Development Canada, The Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human
Resources and Skills Development, describes why it is important to
invest money in programs to help people with disabilities find
needs all of our available talent at work, says Minister Finley.
That is why Economic Action Plan 2013 is increasing opportunities
for people with disabilities, help-ing them gain the skills and
train-ing they need to better participate in Canadas labour
Another way the Canadian Eco-nomic Action Plan is increasing
opportunities for employment among people with disabilities is by
trying to propel the increase in their employment through the
Ca-nadian Employers Disability Fo-rum. The program will be man-aged
by employers, for employers, to support education, training and
sharing of resources and best practices concerning the hiring and
retention of people with dis-abilities. This will ensure that the
skills of people with disabilities will be promoted, in order to
show employers that theyre valuable to the workforce.
These plans and programs will hopefully increase employment
among people with disabilities. Re-
ports show that employment rates for people with disabili-ties
are on the rise and, hopefully, the continued progress of the
Canadian Economic Action Plan and the Canadian Employers Disability
Form will keep this trend going.
In the 2013 government budget plan, people can expect the
continuing support for these programs. It outlines:
The introduction to a new generation of Labour Market Agreements
for Persons with Disabilities by 2014, which will better meet
employment needs of businesses and the employment prospects of
people with disabilities.
Reforming and extending the Opportunities Fund with $40 million
per year starting in 20152016, in order to provide more training
solutions for people with disabilities.
Extending the Enabling Accessibility Fund, a fund that supports
capital costs of construction and renovations to improve physical
accessibility for people with disabilities by $15 million a
The budget plan also stated, since 2006, the governments top
priority has been the economy and job creation. In years to come,
these programs should help create more op-portunities for
employment for people with disabilities, as well as increase their
accessibility which, in turn, will pro-mote a more diverse
workforce. | Kate Aenlle
the home advantageCanadas investment in people with
THE FRONT PAGES government investment
Canadian Pacific (CP) is committed to employment equity and
diversity. Through Workplace Accommodation Policies, CP is ensuring
all eligible employees are able to come to work every day.
The decision to relocate CPs Cal-gary headquarters to its Ogden
Yard presented a unique opportunity to demonstrate the companys
desire to provide workplace accessibility to all.
Peter Quaiattini, who works as a da-tabase administrator, has
been ac-tively involved with planning CPs new headquarters to meet
and exceed accessibility and employment equity requirements.
CP is an inclusive employer, says Pe-ter. It is critical that
every component of our office, from internal and exter-nal
applications, parking, to our wash-rooms, are accessible to
Peter believes the same principle holds for CPs external
relationships, You never know who is on the other end of the
keyboardperhaps a customer or fellow employee with a vision
im-pairment or a motor-skill deficiency.
Peter, who is legally blind, says he en-joys working with CP
because work-ing in such a large company has al-lowed me to excel
in what I can do, and to focus on that, rather than on what I
The level of expertise that Peter dem-
onstrates in his field belies the fact that he is legally blind.
Since the time I joined CP, the company has provided me with the
tools required to excel in whatever Ive been asked to do.
For example, Peter was provided with the JAWS adaptive screen
reader pro-gram, which converts text into speech.
As adaptive technology has advanced, so too have the standards
to which corporations are held. With the full support of CPs
executive group, Pe-ter has worked successfully to ensure CP stays
ahead. With the upcoming move to Ogden Yard, CPs Facilities group
consulted with Peter to ensure his safety and needs were being
Members of our Facilities group have shown a keen interest to
learn the re-quirements to make Ogden safe and accessible, both
inside and out, for those of us who are visually impaired.
In the design and implementation of the plans, weve been working
hard to ensure the facility will be welcoming to all, and that
special needs are con-sidered.
Special consideration has been taken for lighting and air flow,
wheelchair-accessible washrooms and hallways, automatic doors on
the main entry and washrooms, and lower-height kitchen counters
allowing for accessible sinks and microwaves. And, of course, the
office furniture will be adjustable for individual needs and
Canadian paCiFiCs neW ogden headquarters
weLcoming and incLusive
In addition, Facilities has been work-ing with CPs Signals and
Commu-nications group, the City of Calgary, external safety
suppliers, and the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB)
to ensure that pedestri-an crossings, roadways, and pathways around
the Ogden entrances are ac-cessible and safe for everyone to
These considerations include ramped curbs with tactile walking
surfaces at sidewalk intersections, and an audible beacon at the
pedestrian rail crossing used as an orientation tool to deter-mine
the direction of the continuing pathway for the visually
Employees are already looking for-ward to the new amenities that
the new building will offer such as a gym, cafeteria, running
track, outdoor seat-ing areas, a reflection room, a private
location for daily prayers or down time due to sensory impairments,
and plenty of green space.
There will also be a Mothers Room for women to tend to pre- and
post-maternity requirements. Outside the building, there will be
both special needs and expectant mothers desig-nated parking
CPs new headquarters are approxi-mately 12 kilometers southeast
of downtown Calgary. The main build-ing is two floors, comprising
214,000 square feet. Employees will begin re-locating in August
THE FRONT PAGESCanadian paCiFiC
Fall 2013 | JoBpostings.Ca
JoBpostings.Ca | Fall 2013
water doLLar disaBiLityspencer Wests inspiring treks raise funds
for water in africa.
Feeling thirsty? Most often, that brief longing for hydration
can be quenched by a quick trip to your kitchen tap, (unless youre
blessed enough to indulge in a Brita water filter). But what if
access to drinking water wasnt so easy? What if, instead of 15
steps, you had to walk 15 kilometres to a source of replenishment?
Sadly, this is the case for millions of people in developing
nations like Kenya, Ethiopia, and Tunisia, where sources of clean,
drinkable water are scarce.
Words Kyle Reynolds // Photos Free the Children
Fall 2013 | JoBpostings.Ca
Its a sad reality, but its not entirely unsolvable. And
ac-cording to Spencer West, nothing is impossible.
West is a self-proclaimed normal guy who loves swim-ming,
mountain climbing, and playing Mario Kart. He may argue that he is
no different from you, but at a total height of two-foot-seven,
many (mis)perceive him as oth-erwise. Born with sacral genesis, a
genetic disorder that af-fected his lower spine and prevented him
from uncrossing his legs, West underwent surgery to remove his
lower limbs at the age of five.
Initially, West felt like he would never become a contrib-uting
member of society. But today, with the support of
friends, family, and thousands of people across the world, he is
now part of a movement that has successfully brought clean water
access to 100,000 people.
Since 2008, West has been redefining possible by taking on a
series of seemingly impossible feats, including a gru-elling climb
up Tanzanias Mount Kilimanjaro and, most recently, a 300-kilometre
trek from Edmonton to Calgary. In the past five years, West has
transcended his physical differences and proven that he is far from
what many once referred to him as: disabled.
It all started when his friend asked him to volunteer to build a
school in Kenya for underprivileged children. Feel-ing discontent
with his job and detached from material po-sitions, West heavily
contemplated the option.
When my friend invited me to go to Kenya, I was like, Thats
crazy. I cant find happiness here in North Amer-ica, Im not gonna
find it in Kenya, says West. Alas, he took a leap of faith and
hasnt looked back since.
That was my biggest fear: trusting my gut and going on my own,
he says. Once I overcame that and stopped lis-tening to what
society said, and did what I thought was right for me, thats when
things started to get better.
Upon sharing his story with a group of children in Kenya, a
young girl expressed that she didnt know something as traumatic as
losing ones legs could happen to white peo-ple, too. That one
phrase inspired West to use his story to motivate people to not
only look at challenges differ-ently, but to get involved with
something theyre passion-ate about. He found solace in joining
forces with Free the Children and immediately began his journey to
bring sustainable clean water projects to communities inflicted by
Today, West serves as an international leadership facilita-tor
in Kenya, India, and at the Arizona-Mexico border. He also leads
hundreds of volunteer students on the Me
MOUNT KILIMANJARO IS THE HIGHEST FREE-STANDING MOUNTAIN IN THE
WORLD AT 5,895 METRES OR 19,341 FEET ABOVE SEA LEVEL. SPENCER
CLIMBED MT. KILIMANJARO IN SEVEN DAYS, MOSTLY ON HIS HANDS.
DAY 7 - 19,341 FEET -
JoBpostings.Ca | Fall 2013
to We foundations international trips. Last June, the world
watched as West conquered Mount Kilimanjaro and raised more than
$500,000 for his cause. He used his wheelchair for part of the
walk, but tackled about 80 per cent of the trek on his hands.
Despite the difficult terrain and his friends violent confrontation
with altitude sickness, West admits it wasnt his toughest
The challenge for We Walk 4Water was actually much harder than
Kilimanjaro, says West, referring to his most recent hike from
Edmonton to Calgary. We were doing about 30 kilometres a day, which
is almost a full marathon, for 11 days. It was the same motion over
and over again so your joints were just destroyed by the end.
West decided to embark on the walk with his two closest friends
after learning that during the dry season in Narok, Kenya, the
average family must travel 15 kilometres to ac-cess clean water.
Additionally, about 80 per cent of serious illnesses in developing
countries are connected to poor wa-ter and sanitation. Determined
to find a solution and raise awareness, West walked in solidarity
with those suffering in developing nations and was joined by the
likes of singer/songwriter Nelly Furtado, Survivor winner Ethan
Zahn, and actor J.R Martinez.
According to West, he was overwhelmed by the public re-sponse,
and was particularly optimistic about the support
he continues to receive from young children.
Those are the kids that inspire me: that work so hard to
overcome bullying, that work so hard to raise money to build a
school, that work so hard to run the campaigns, says West. And
thats why I continue to do what I do, because they are the ones
that are effecting the biggest change.
Wests best friend, Alex Meers, joined him on both excur-sions
and attributes Wests success to how he makes people feel when they
are around him.
He is just a genuine person who pushes his own limits and
encourages others to do the same in their own way, says Meers. Its
rare to come across meaningful friendships with people who
encourage you to bring out your best.
He and West both agree that it doesnt require losing your legs
or having a traumatic experience to become a motiva-tional speaker
or to make a positive impact on the world.
I think its really important to look at something that youre
passionate about and [be] able to talk about that correctly, says
West. With any journey, you have to take some risks and step
outside of your comfort zone in order to move, in order to grow. At
the end of the day, regard-less of whatever Im doing, I just want
to know that I did everything that I could to make the world a
spenCer West on day siX oF his seven day Climb.
YOUR 2ND CHANCE TO WIN A $20K CIBC GIC TO FILL YOUR PIGGY
CANADASLUCKIESTSTUDENT.COM | #LUCKIESTSTUDENT
Fall 2013 | JoBpostings.Ca
reaching your FuLL PotentiaL with a disaBiLity
born with limited use of his arms and legs, Canadian paralympian
Josh vander vies turns cants into cans.
INSPIRATIONJosh vander vies
When you try to define the word dis-ability, its often
associated with an inability to perform certain everyday tasks that
most people are able to do. But for 28-year-old Canadian
Para-lympian Josh Vander Vies, that as-sumption is far from the
Born without arms and legs, Vander Vies is a two-time
Paralympian and boccia player for the Canadian Na-tional Team, and
models himself to be an inspirational figure for those with and
without disabilities. At a young age, doctors doubted his abil-ity
to cope without the use of his limbs, but he has since proven the
critics wrong. Vander Vies is a UBC graduate, has competed and
traveled around the world, and lives a more-than-normal life with
his partner and family. He discusses the importance of striving to
live a normal life despite having a disability in his blog
Disabil-ity is Not Negative, which was posted on his website.
Its up to adults with disabilities to build positive attitudes
about them-selves and other people with dis-abilities by doing
ordinary things in creative and amazing ways, writes Vander Vies in
his post. And through his athleticism, and willingness to share his
story to audiences around the world, he has proven to be that
spokesperson and role model. Giv-ing up is the easy way out, he
writes. Not giving up, risking your ego, and working hard at
accomplishing a tough goal is being alive. Success will follow.
Its inevitable that there are many
questions that follow a disability at birth or later in life.
People often won-der how this affects everything from their
personal life to their potential future careers. However, Vander
Vies stresses that a disability isnt what stops you. Other things
do a great job of this though: negative attitudes, giving up, not
taking chances, or not working hard, he says.
Those born with disabilities often-times are more sheltered and
pro-tected by their parents, Vander Vies writes. This can be
especially dam-aging. Kids without disabilities are allowed to take
chances and do risky thingsdont forget to give that op-portunity to
your child with a disabil-ity as well.
He discusses the importance of par-ents fostering positive
attitudes for their children with disabilities. It is up to parents
to support their child when the going gets tough and they want to
throw in the towel, he writes. Often enough, failure hurts, but any
failure can be turned into a learning experience.
Without the support from his fam-ily, courage, and determination
to be bigger than his disability, Vander Vies would not be where he
is today: train-ing and competing internationally, and speaking to
audiences of thou-sands.
Kids with disabilities need to learn the value of hard work
because they will be working hard for the rest of their lives ...
There are many negative things in the world. Disability is not one
of them. | Megan Santos
image sourCe: Jd booth
CONTINUE YOUR EDUCATION IN BUSINESS; EVENINGS, WEEKENDS,
ON-CAMPUS,ONLINE, ON YOUR TIME.
Fall 2013 | JoBpostings.Ca
Today, there are roughly 7,000 different types of rare dis-eases
affecting approximately 2.8 million Canadians.
Some of the diseases certainly may cause you to maybe be
disabled, some diseases may affect your neurological cognitive
function, says Durhane Wong-Rieger, president and CEO of the
Canadian Organization for Rare Disor-ders (CORD). The single thing
that all kinds of rare disor-ders have in common, is that theyre
very hard to diagnose. For some, it can take years to identify. The
doctor may or may not agree theres something wrong, nobody will
know what it is, and it many take many years in chasing down
specialist after specialist, and test after test, she says.
CORD is an umbrella organization for rare disease groups across
Canada and works alongside governments, indus-tries, clinicians,
and researchers to develop treatments and services to for all rare
diseases nationwide. Currently, CORD is working on developing an
orphan drug policy in Canada, says Wong-Rieger, which would
to drugs for rare diseases for Canadians and also improve the
access to these drugs ... so that patients can actually have these
drugs covered under the drug plans because most of them are quite
An orphan drug refers to the medication used to treat rare
diseases. Theyre called orphan drugs because in the past, companies
and researchers who were developing these drugs ... would often
abandon them because it cost so much to develop the drug, she says.
There is no direct cure for existing rare diseases and, according
to Wong-Rieger, the medication that is prescribed simply treats
symptoms linked to the disorder (headaches, inflamma-tion, etc.)
However, there is no actual treatment for the dis-ease itself, thus
explaining the significance of a drug policy.
Wong-Rieger describes today as the most exciting time for orphan
drug research and development. Certainly, 3035 years ago nobody
paid attention to them, she says, but now, especially with the
orphan drug policies that have
Living with a rare iLLnessthey may be classified as rare, but
today rare diseases affect over 300 million people worldwide.
Words Megan Santos // Illustrations Pay404 Media
JoBpostings.Ca | Fall 2013
taken place in the US, Europe, and coming into Canada, theres a
renewed interest in financial support for research and development
on these rare diseases. Additionally, the increasing interest in
genetics today is a benefit since 80 per cent of rare disorders are
genetic. Now that weve mapped the human genome, she says, we know
how to identify many cases genetic defects and theres a huge amount
of interest in it and lots of money is going into it.
Along with cancer research, development of rare disease
treatment is considered the fastest growing interest in terms of
Its an amazing time for people with rare diseases because,
It took four years for Carrie Gallagher to finally under-stand
that she suffered from more than just a sinus infec-tion.
Gallagher, an account manager and health and well-ness trainer for
Balancing Lifes Issues, suffers from a rare disease called
granulomatosis with polyangiitis, (GPA for short). Affecting
roughly one in 25,000 Canadians, GPA is an autoimmune disease that
damages the small blood ves-sels of the kidneys, lungs, sinuses,
and other organs.
Gallagher says that as an active individual who exercised
regularly and took kickboxing classes, she knew something was wrong
when she began to feel ill and experienced diz-ziness and
I just never felt right; this went on for about three or four
years, she says. I was constantly feeling like I had a sinus
infection and just a terrible cold because Id be stuffed up all the
time out of the blue and then it would go away the next day.
Looking for answers from specialists, Gallagher says that, for
years, no doctor had any idea what it might be. It wasnt until an
evening in early January 2012, when Gal-lagher began to cough up
blood, that a diagnosis arrived.
It was really blood in my lungs from blood vessels burst-ing
from the disease, she says, after doctors had initially thought she
suffered from pneumonia. After rushing to the emergency room, she
was finally diagnosed with GPA within 24 hours.
For the last year and a half of living with GPA, Gallagher says
she always promised herself to be positive.
I think, of course, its very scary, especially at a young age
and especially in terms of a career, she says. I think the advice
that I would give to people is when something hap-pens (like
illness or death), just look at the positive of it.
Gallagher attributes her strong support system for helping her
deal with GPA.
like I said, up to a few years ago nobody cared and no one did
anything, says Wong-Rieger. Twenty-five years ago, people thought
of rare diseases as people with two heads or something and they had
no idea what were talking about.
Since the public, governments, and researchers have be-come
better aware of the existence of rare diseases, there has been an
even bigger push to find cures.
We take a look into the lives of three women, living and working
with three different rare diseases. They take us through their
diagnosis process, and share their fears on how they believed this
would ultimately affect their careers and personal lives.
carrie gaLLagher aCCount manager, health and Wellness
granuLomatosis with PoLyangiitis (gPa) one in 25,0000 people
Fall 2013 | JoBpostings.Ca
Becky Dennis believes humour is the best remedy in cop-ing with
her rare disease. Dennis, an author and marketing guru, has been
living with encephalitis (which, in laymans terms, is the swelling
of the brain), for the last five and a half years. Affecting up to
10 per 100,000 people, encepha-litis can be acquired in many ways
including car accident and bacteria. She contracted the disease
through a mosqui-to bite; however, the diagnosis process was far
It took them two and a half years, which was scary from a job
perspective because I was constantly at the doctors appointments,
she says. Initially, Denniss doctor had be-lieved she suffered from
a stroke or may have had multiple sclerosis. But finally, after
meeting with a doctor in Boston, Dennis was diagnosed with
The onset experience of the encephalitis had been a scary time
I was very afraid; the first six months I was very ill and
Becky dennis author oF brain WreCk, ChieF marketing oFFiCer
encePhaLitis 510 per 100,000 individuals
At the time, I was dating my then-boyfriend so he knew me when I
was normal, healthy, and graduating from col-lege, then the stage
of not feeling good all the time, and of course when I was
Gallagher is proud to say she is medicine free today, after
months of taking Rituxan and a high-dosage of Predni-sone, (a type
of steroid). Frequent visits to her doctor for blood work and
specialist appointments have kept her away from needing the
The best way to say it is I live with it, I do things myself to
maintain it, says Gallagher. So I try to maintain things I can
control and my lifestyle just to be as healthy as pos-
sible in any way to help myself from flaring up again. To
accomplish that, she maintains a gluten-free diet to avoid any
inflammation and makes sure she gets eight hours of sleep every
I know it sounds silly but its really important to do these
things because, when youre living with something like this, the
better the chances you are living without another flare.
Since her diagnosis, Gallagher has also began doing re-search to
inform others of her condition and to stay posi-tive in the face of
adversity. I want to learn everything I can to help others, she
says, and use that in my career.
was sleeping probably 16 to 18 hours a day, she says. So I would
have to set an alarm for the meetings that I ab-solutely couldnt
miss. Along with the sleepiness, Dennis says she felt confusion and
short-term memory loss. She had a difficult time with everyday
tasks, like fixing her hair or remembering how to simultaneously
walk and talk.
The onset is the most severe part of the illness itself; then if
you start to recover different things start to come up, she says. I
look at my encephalitis as a blessing and a curse because a lot of
people have recovered quite well, but the curse is a lot of my
symptoms are invisible to most people, so they dont see how hard I
have to work.
As a marketing officer, Dennis job description relies heav-ily
on meetings and presentations.
People ask me a multi-part question, so I have a pen handy to
write down multiple parts of the question, she says. Its sometimes
a scary experience because when youre
JoBpostings.Ca | Fall 2013
Mine started off as a tremor in my right pinky finger, says
Soania Mathur. For the last 15 years, Mathur has been living with
Parkinsons disease, and for 12 of those years she has practiced as
a family doctor, a career in which she continued to pursue at the
time of her diagnosis.
Parkinsons disease affects about one in every 100 people over
the age of 60, so it occurs more often than a rare dis-ease. What
makes Mathurs diagnosis unique is that she dis-covered she was
living with Parkinsons at 27 years old. Af-fecting only five to 10
per cent of those diagnosed, Mathur has what is referred to as
young onset Parkinsons disease, which includes anyone with the
disease under the age of 40.
At 27, just as Mathur wrapped up her studies in family practice
and readied herself to pursue a career in the field, she was
diagnosed with Parkinsons disease.
[The tremor] was just intermittent and very occasional, so of
course, being a doctor I ignored it until it spread to the rest of
my hand and ultimately my arm, she says. By the time it became more
persistent in my right hand, I went for an evaluation from a
colleague of mine and he diagnosed young onset Parkinsons disease
at my clinical exam.
Unsure of how this would affect her career, Mathur says she went
It was very difficult, but I ended up practicing for 12
with the Parkinsons. For the first two years it was manage-able,
she says. It was difficult to help my patients through their issues
when I was dealing with trying to hide my own.
At the 11-year mark of her career and life with Parkinsons,
Mathur says she decided to temporarily put her practice on hold. I
went on short-term disability for about three or four months just
because I was burning out.
She decided to work part-time in attempts to make her return
back into the field, but her worsening symptoms and side ef-fects
to the medication, (which can sometimes be worse than the symptoms
themselves), kept her from practicing.
My husband said youre just going to drive yourself into the
ground, essentially minimizing the productive life Ill have after,
says Mathur. My neurologist basically put it this way to me: do you
want to walk out of the office or do you want to crawl out? I said
I choose to walk out and it just became unmanageable to work so
thats why I left.
Although Mathur falls in that five to 10 per cent, she
contin-ues to strive to live a positive life for herself and her
For my children, I think its important for them to see a
positive role model to understand that they will face obstacles in
their lives, she says. Ultimately how they ap-proach those
obstacles will define them as human beings and strong women that I
hope they will be.
soania mathur Family physiCian
young onset Parkinsons disease (under 40 years oLd) aFFeCts 5 to
10 per Cent oF those diagnosed
doing presentations and somebody asks you something, in my head
Im like could you please not do this to me?
Despite the symptomsthe confusion and loss for words at
timesDennis strives to be a role model for others. If theres
anything I need to offer right now, its being that
voice because I am more capable than a lot of other peo-ple who
have survived this. She says shes always been the type of person to
laugh even at the toughest times. I guess Im thankful that my sense
of humour wasnt compro-mised because thats what really helped me
Because working here is about more than helping customers choose
the right product. Its about making a difference in our customers
lives and their homes. We call it unleashing your inner orange and
its my ability to tap into my inner potential to help them create a
space thats worth calling home.
My favorite thing is to dream up new possibilities for customers
looking to make a big change in their home. I know that my
customers love thinking outside of the box, whether their project
is just a small change like a new chandelier or a big one like a
whole new wall color. Through extensive training, tuition
reimbursement and more, The Home Depot gives me the support I need
to build a promising future.
Im full of fun ways to make a big difference.
Apply online at homedepotjobs.ca/5762 or text HOMEDEPOT to
998899 for information on upcoming career fairs and opportunities
in your area.
Tuition Reimbursement Program To support and encourage our
associates who enroll in school to pursue a degree or professional
development we reimburse 50% of college, university or technical
school fees up to a maximum of $5,000 per year. Thats the power of
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