Guardian journalist Jim Day did a remarkable job on the Monica Elaine Campbell story on her recent appointment to the prestigious “Order of Ontario.”
This amazing lady was challenged with all aspects of life from birth as she was born completely deaf.
I had the distinct pleasure of serving as her high school guidance counsellor in the early 1970s. I clearly recall her parents, Gus and Margaret Campbell, coming to my office to introduce Elaine. Her demanding high school courses culminated in her graduation with honors.
Elaine’s only sources of learning were using the delicate act of speech reading which involves lip reading as well as facial expressions and body language. Speech reading involves demanding mental gymnastics and can be quite exhausting.
Elaine proudly accepted an entrance scholarship to UPEI and graduated with honors, majoring in mathematics. I referred her to the late Jack Blanchard, counsellor in student services at UPEI — the role model for all counsellors at that time.
Elaine moved to Ontario following graduation and eventually became a dedicated advocate for the deaf and hearing impaired with special attention to those patients in palliative care.
She honored me with an invitation to be one of her four guests to attend the ceremonies relating to her investiture in the order of Ontario.
She was in the company of 24 of Ontario’s brightest stars including Dr. Robert Fowler, the clinical lead for the World Health Organization during the recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa, and Dr. Hugh Allen who taught new surgical techniques and approaches to women’s care in over 30 countries.
Elaine has mastered the art of sign language since she left university which she maintains greatly reduces the stress level of relying solely on speech reading.
We could all take lessons from Elaine.