“The time that I do have available should be used to help others,” she says. Michelle volunteers on the government relations committee for the MS Society of Canada’s National Government Relations Committee and is on the board of Disability Alliance B.C.”
A former public school math and music teacher and principal, Michelle was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in her early 40s. In a matter of months, she needed a wheelchair. Fatigue limits the amount of time she can work each day.
“We have a large chunk of people who already live in poverty, and a large chunk of people who are very close to living in poverty,” Michelle says, recalling people she’s met who have to decide between buying medicine or food.
She says it’s important that a disability benefit is designed by people who live with disabilities and know how it could improve their lives.
The benefit is “the first step” to improving the financial situation for Canadians with disabilities, she says. “It’s definitely complicated work, and we’re up to the challenge. We’re not backing down just because it’s hard.”
Michelle is a PhD candidate at UBC-O, where her research focus is the experience of younger adults who live in long-term facilities. She lives in Kelowna with her husband and her Bernese Mountain dog.