Former Lt.-Gov David Onley video address at the opening of THE BOX at H’art Centre, 2012
David Onley lived a life of advocacy for continually raising the bar on what better can be
Guest post | Contributed by Board Member Julie Ann Wolfe May
The Hon. David C. Onley championed “Accessibility for All” in Ontario and everywhere. More than a physical issue for David, true accessibility meant breaking through psychological and social barriers and soaring past them.
After countless exposures as a broadcast journalist, and underscored by a personal love of music that inspired him to write a love song to Canada with Ruth Ann, David Onley knew about the power of the Arts, both for healing and enriching lives. Prior to being appointed as Ontario’s 28th Lieutenant Governor, he drove with me to a UNESCO-sponsored Arts and Learning symposium at Queen’s University in Kingston. We took in a performance at the Duncan McArthur Hall by participants of H’art Centre. The performance was wonderful and David commented how it was “utterly inclusive” — every person on the stage played a part; no matter a physical or cognitive barrier. The program impressed as a ‘best practice’ for what can happen when mantras of accessibility and inclusion are adopted and woven into the culture of an organization. David beamed all the way back to Toronto. Later as Lieutenant Governor David Onley participated in the opening of The BOX at H’art Centre via video link. As a H’art board member this year I approached David about the possibility of bringing him back to Kingston to the Marine Museum and for the opening of a H’art Centre national visual art exhibit, ‘Connecting Canadians: Freshwater’. The Fall exhibit, commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Great Lakes Fresh Water Treaty, included works by H’art Studio participants and works by participants in programs similar to H’art Centre operating across Canada. David responded to the invitation as he always did — with immediacy and gratitude that will always be ’David Onley trademarks’, before explaining how he couldn’t attend due to health concerns.
Thank you David Onley for your professional excellence and your love and celebration of Life — no matter what, and your brilliant vision towards helping to define what, ideally, accessibility and inclusion can be.