White Cane Week takes place Feb.7-13, 2021. File photo

White Cane Week takes place Feb.7-13, 2021. File photo

White Cane Week bringing public awareness of challenges faced by Canadians dealing with vision loss

Sunday, Feb. 7 is the start of White Cane Week in Canada, an annual week of bringing public awareness of some of the challenges faced by Canadians dealing with vision loss.

This year’s events will be largely virtual, said Pat Chiquen, the president of the Comox Valley Chapter of the Canadian Council of the Blind.

“We will have four guest speakers on Zoom during the week, speaking on different topics,” she said. “One guest speaker is Albert Ruel from Parksville, who is totally blind, and a GTT geek, we call him – Get Together with Technology. He probably knows more about that stuff than 75 per cent of sighted people.”

The Zoom sessions will be accessible through the Canadian Council of the Blind BC-Yukon Division at https://ccbbcyukon.com

The local chapter has kept busy throughout the pandemic, even though restrictions have made for little personal contact by its 45 members. It used federal grants to purchase audiobooks, and had a local maskmaker create 100 masks, emblazoned with a white cane on them.

In normal times, the local club has regular dinners out, supporting the restaurants of the Comox Valley. While COVID regulations would not allow such gatherings in 2020, Chiquen said the club still managed to support the local businesses.

“This year we bought gift cards for all our members,” she said. “And even if they can’t go out, they can use the gift card to have a dinner delivered to their home. So we are still trying out best to support the local businesses, who do so much to support us.”

Chiquen said the club has been meeting on Zoom, which isn’t ideal for visually impaired people, but it has helped the club keep in contact with most of its members.

“We do have 13 members who can’t get on Zoom on their own, but we can also phone in up to 15 people, so those people can [join the meetings],” said Chiquen.

For more information on the Comox Valley Chapter of the Canadian Council of the Blind, Chiquen invites people to call her at 250-339-3904.

White Cane Week runs from Feb. 7-13, 2021.

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