Journey to Independence: Blindness, the Canadian Story

Journey to Independence: Blindness, the Canadian Story

Journey to Independence: Blindness, the Canadian Story

Journey to Independence: Blindness, the Canadian Story


The Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) has sought to improve the lives of generations of blind Canadians. Established in 1918, this philanthropic organization has guided blind people out of a time of poverty and abuse, bringing them the same rights and freedoms as all Canadians.

This book explores the history of the CNIB - from the men who crafted its charter to the people who have made it so successful. Millions of Canadians have been touched by the services it provides or by its message of hope. The CNIB has left a legacy in Canada's legislative, judicial, and cultural fabric, and it is a history that must be told.


The book you are about to read will take you on a journey that touches on four centuries. Over the course of it, you will meet some extraordinary, passionate men and women, most of them blind, who worked with tireless determination to make this country a better, more accepting place for Canadians who are blind, visually impaired, or deaf-blind.

You will meet the founders of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, an organization that was started by a dedicated group of seven men, including two war-blinded soldiers, at the end of the First World War. and although the war was certainly the catalyst in the creation of the cnib, it most likely would have happened anyway, as the natural evolution of the library for the blind and schools and associations for the blind that existed at that time.

You will also see how Canadian attitudes towards blindness have changed over the years, and you will, realize, I hope, that although we’ve come a long way, we still have far to go.

You will learn that blind people, like all people with disabilities, do not need sympathy — they need equal access to education, opportunity, employment, and empowerment. the people you are about to meet will tell you that, in their own words. This is, after all, their story. Our story.

For me, the cnib isn’t just a well-established Canadian institution with historic and philanthropic importance. It has personal relevance. You see, I was blinded in my left eye during Second World War combat, and my remaining vision is now failing, so I am not just a supporter of the cnib but also one of its 105,000 . . .

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