It was August 20, 1959 when Cathy Grant and her twin Norman Craig came into this world. Cathy was the only one who survived. Sadly, Norman left this world at 52 days old. Cathy was the sole focus of her mother and father until November 20, 1960 when their sister Shirley arrived. Cathy lived at home with Shirley and their parents for the first 13 years of her life. At the age of 14, she was admitted to Sunny Hill Hospital where she remained until July 21, 1975. Cathy was then transferred to George Pearson Hospital where she stayed until July 26, 1988. It was then that Cathy realized her lifelong goal – to live as part of a community. Cathy had been a self-advocate for years and always wanted to help others who had a disability as well. It was then that she began to consider herself a Disabilities Activist.
In 2002, Cathy served on the Transition Steering Committee for Community Living and in 2003, was appointed to the Interim Authority Board for Community Living, by Minister Gordon Hogg.
Cathy loved to write about and share her life with anyone who would listen. She had many stories running around in her head and completed a couple of books, compilations of her life experiences. Every year for fifteen years in total, Cathy spoke to students of Community Living classes at Douglas College as well as a few other colleges and a high school. Cathy often said, “I believe these students are our future and the key to community living as it should be”.
Mike McCardell of CTV was a huge supporter of Cathy’s endeavors by taking her stories to the people through his own writing. As he said, “We are now old friends!”
Cathy’s lifelong dream and goal was to eventually live independently with some support and she finally realized her dream.
On March 17, 2012, my husband Mike and I met my sister Cathy Grant for the very first time. I was given up for adoption at two weeks old and finally at age 59 decided to search for my birth family. That was when I discovered and met Cathy and Shirley. A short time after that, I also met our sisters Barb and Bev.
Cathy and I always managed to keep busy, working together on various projects that gave us both a great sense of joy and accomplishment. Cathy’s best friend Ed said we “exhausted him” with our endless energy and motivation. The truth was, Cathy was the one with endless energy and motivation. Cathy and Ed were best friends for 33 years.
Cathy had many passions, including fighting for civil and human rights for all, a Federal Disability Act, Individualized funding, to name a few. It made her happy that she and Ed had a large wheelchair accessible van but when it was showing signs of its age she was concerned that she would no longer have the transportation she needed to continue the advocacy work she so loved to do. However, Cathy never let that stop her from doing what she felt had to be done.
Most of us at some point in our life will know someone who has a disability or become disabled themselves. That is why it was so important to Cathy that she continue to be able to advocate for others. She felt everyone should stand together and fight for each other.
By Thora Rogers
Cathy Grant died February 10, 2019.
Listen to the song Thora wrote for Cathy.