As part of a Canada-wide initiative, the Valley East Library in Greater Sudbury is helping raise awareness for deafblind residents

It's part of a Canada-wide drive, with squares of homemade colourful yarn art wrapped around a pillar at the Valley East Library. It’s now on display during National Deafblind Awareness month. (https://deafblindontario.com/) 

"Deafblind Ontario Services has been in the Sudbury region since 2017 when we opened our first home," said Crystal Pigeon-Way, assistant community engagement manager for Deafblind Ontario Services, Sudbury Region.

"In 2020, we opened up our second home. We are trying to ensure those individuals are seen equally within our community."

Official estimates indicate over 1 percent of people in Canada are considered deafblind. With over 21,000 in Ontario and some are in Sudbury.

"We support seven individuals in a day program and a residential program," said Pigeon-Way.

"There is a school locally that has a deafblind class in it as well, so I’m sure that the need is here, and that they’re waiting and willing and would love some service."

One client is 27-year-old Corey.

"Corey is a fun, loving little guy," said Cory’s mother, Linda Crawford.

"He has had a normal life, like everyone else, the only thing is he’s in a wheelchair. But, he’s gone camping, quading, boating, fishing, and we never stopped because he was in a wheelchair. So he’s had a full life. He loves people, he loves music, and if you pay attention to him, oh my, you’ve got a friend for life," said Crawford.

"He’s just a beautiful soul."

For the past two years, Corey has lived at Maison Jaqueline, one of two homes in the Greater Sudbury area.

"I cannot say enough about how they make my life that much easier, because they take care of Corey the same way that I do," she said.

"They care about these kids the same way a parent does."

For Crawford, it was about finding a place that was able to take care of Corey the same way that she does, especially if anything were to ever happen. 

"Corey has more of a social life than I do, to say the least," she said.

"He’s gone fishing, he’s gone to see concerts, he’s seen the Sudbury Five, the hockey games, they do all kinds of activities with these kids."

The Valley East Public Library is one location across the country that is taking part. It’s also the first year that the City of Greater Sudbury is involved in the initiative.

"People that are deafblind, they have a whole different perspective on life," said city councillor Robert Kirwan.

"So to raise awareness to what’s going on in the community for people who are deafblind, it’s the least we could do. I would love to see this done across the city, because it’s something important that people should be made aware of."

"Initiatives like this one can only help other people in the same position," said Crawford.

"I’m sure people are not aware the list to have children or adults placed in group homes or congregated homes like Corey has is between five to 10 years so these homes, we need them, and especially in the north."

Adding, "I think it’s important to raise awareness because a lot of people aren’t aware, they don’t live this. They don’t see it, so these initiatives that we are having for the month of June is fantastic."