The Honourable Joyce Fairbairn – Congratulations on Induction into Paralympic Hall of Fame

Honourable senators, I am happy to share the news that one of our colleagues has received an important honour. On Friday evening, Senator Joyce Fairbairn was inducted into the Paralympic Hall of Fame in the capacity of a “builder.”

I had the pleasure of attending the ceremony and watching my dear friend receive the award from another friend, former Senator Vim Kochhar. The MC for the ceremony was well-known Paralympic wheelchair racer Chantal Petitclerc, who described being at various Paralympic games and when turning her eyes to the crowds being able to spot Joyce.

For years Senator Fairbairn has been pushing for funds and raising awareness for Paralympics. She has truly become the godmother of the movement. Wherever the Paralympic Games are held, summer or winter, you can be sure that Joyce will be there cheering on the athletes.

I remember sitting with Senator Fairbairn at the 2010 Winter Games in Whistler at the moment that the entire sledge hockey team made its way to the blue line and raised their sticks in her honour. The athletes, their families and coaches love her and appreciate the positive impact she has had on their lives.

Senator Fairbairn’s involvement with the movement began in 1998 when Sheila Copps, the then Minister of Canadian Heritage, asked her to represent Canada at the Nagano Paralympic Games. This turned out to be a defining moment. In her tribute to Senator Fairbairn, Ms. Copps said:

I shouldn’t have been surprised that Joyce was willing to pick up the Paralympic torch, so to speak. She has always been at the forefront of fighting for those whose voices are often marginalized, ignored or disregarded —

— and that includes in literacy.

Joyce was born in Lethbridge, Alberta. She became a journalist and eventually joined the bureau of United Press International — that was a long time ago. She also worked for former Prime Minister Trudeau, who later recommended her appointment to the Senate. It is a familiar path, I must say. It is also as distinct as the woman herself.

Senator Joyce Fairbairn is determined, caring and focused in helping people realize their greatness. Her contribution to the Paralympic movement is a gift to all of us, and I am proud to call Joyce my friend and congratulate her on this recent honour.