Monica Elaine Campbell awarded the Order of Ontario, January, 2016
Monica Elaine Campbell was born in PEI the middle of 5 siblings. At 15 months of age her profound deafness was diagnosed and at age 4, upon being fitted with hearing aids, she understood what made her different from her siblings – her “ears were different”. In fact, she has never heard a word. She excelled at school and graduated from UPEI on the Dean’s honour role.
Monica Elaine learned sign language after moving to Ottawa in her late twenties. After attending a Deaf culture workshop, which was a real eye opener, she began to immerse herself in Deaf culture and to find a new outlet for her talents and advocacy work and she soon became a trusted, respected and loved member of the Deaf community.
Monica Elaine decided to pursue a certificate in palliative care, graduating in 2005 from the Palliative Care Multidisciplinary Program at Algonquin College. She took the palliative care training offered by the Hospice at Maycourt and helped establish the Deaf Palliative Care Team which is a resource throughout the Ottawa Carleton region to Deaf individuals receiving care from various health care facilities or hospice, palliative care professionals. The Team of volunteers is ready to assist the staff of various facilities to provide culturally sensitive care and Monica Elaine ensures communication amongst the various parties is as smooth as possible. Staff report that their understanding of the needs of the Deaf has been enhanced by Monica Elaine’s encouraging and friendly manner.
Monica Elaine leads by example and inspires others. She is often called on, as a friend and mentor, for support by many who wish to talk about their anxieties, their treatments, and available resources. Her knowledge, resourcefulness, generosity and sympathetic ear make a huge difference in helping others overcome the obstacles they face.
At the national level Monica Elaine was the CAD (Canadian Association of the Deaf) representative on many committees where she was seen as persuasive, articulate and innovative and she was admired for her insight, diligence and leadership.
In 2003 Monica Elaine and two friends, one Deaf and one hearing, formed a committee, lovingly referred to as Don’s Dream for Long Term Care and after 5 years of tireless work, a partnership was established and funds secured for a dedicated floor at the Glebe Centre where Deaf seniors, who wish to be served together in one facility, can do so.
Monica Elaine’s calm, gentle, yet persuasive manner and eloquence in explaining the specific needs of the Deaf makes a difference by inspiring others to want to be involved alongside her in her work.
Monica Elaine is a fiercely determined advocate of the rights of the Deaf to interpreting services that are provided by professional, qualified sign language interpreters. She speaks eloquently about the need to provide accessible services to the Deaf community and the liability in not doing so. Monica Elaine argues that accessibility with ramps and elevators for a person who uses a wheelchair are a “given” in our society and professional, qualified interpreters should be accepted as the accessibility equivalent for the Deaf. Further, she argues, the use of an interpreter who is not a professional or qualified is like having a paramedic perform surgery.
In presentations she has spoken about the issue and encourages others to think about their legal responsibility to the Deaf.
Recently, Monica Elaine has been instrumental in expanding the focus of the Palliative Care Team to all areas of support in health care and the Team is now referred to as the Ottawa Deaf Health Care Team, ODHCT.
Monica Elaine continues visiting sick and lonely Deaf members in the community on behalf of St Rene Goupil Catholic Deaf Ministry as well as speaking at the national and local level on providing services to the Deaf and Deafblind. As well, Monica Elaine is a member of the Ottawa Deaf Centre’s ODC Legacy Board and the representative to the Ottawa Community Foundation.
Monica Elaine’s engaging personality and persuasive arguments have mobilized many people to action on behalf of Deaf and Deafblind people. The essence of her contributions is her belief that to be Deaf is a gift to be valued as much as life itself.