Program | Meet the Speakers | Sponsors


9:15 – 10:00 AM: Registration and continental breakfast

10:00 – 11:50 AM: View Point: Ask the Expert: Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

Fighting Blindness Canada presents an interactive session about AMD which affects over 2.5 million Canadians. The session includes:

  • Overview of Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) with Dr. Bernard Hurley
  • Learning From Lived Experience: A Panel discussion featuring Heather Christy, Claire Paulin & Sheena Waterson
  • Ask the Expert: audience questions for Dr. Hurley

11:50 AM – 12:00 PM: Remarks by the Honorable Judy Sgro, MP

12:00 – 12:45 PM: Break, light lunch provided

12:45 – 2:00 PM: Canadian Survey on Disability 2022

The Canadian Council of the Blind presents a panel discussion with researchers from Statistics Canada about the 2022 Canadian Survey on Disability. In this engaging session, panelists will discuss how this data was collected, why it is important and what the results tell us about the prevalence of disabilities, including seeing disabilities, in Canada. Panelists will also discuss the Statistics Canada Accessibility plan and take questions from the audience.

The panel will be moderated by Dr. Keith Gordon, Senior Research Officer of the Canadian Council of the Blind, and will feature panelists:

  • Tony Labillois – Director General, Justice, Diversity and Population Statistics Branch
  • Susan Wallace – Section chief, Disability and Accessibility Statistics
  • Marysa Vachon – Analyst, Disability and Accessibility Statistics
  • Jeremy Plaunt – Manager, Accessibility Secretariat

Meet the speakers


Residing in Kemptville, ON, Heather is a retired federal public servant who spent part of her career managing an Accessibility Centre in the Department of Canadian Heritage. She became an advocate for individuals with vision loss in the late 1970s when her two sons were diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, later discovered to be choroideremia. About 10 years ago, she was diagnosed with AMD. In addition to volunteering and fundraising for FBC, Heather has been involved with the Gloucester Lions Club for over 25 years where she has helped to advocate for vision testing in schools.


Bernard R. Hurley, BSc, MD, FRCSC is a vitreoretinal surgeon at the University of Ottawa Eye Institute, and is an attending staff member of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO). He is also an Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology and the current Fellowship Director at the University of Ottawa’s Department of Ophthalmology, as well as a clinician investigator at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. He has received awards for top clinical instruction in 2022, 2016, 2013 and 2011. 

Dr. Hurley completed his post-graduate medical education with a Retina Fellowship at the Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia where he was twice awarded the Outstanding Fellow Award. He has written several chapters and has authored or co-authored many peer-reviewed publications on topics including age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.


Claire was born in Greenfield, ON, and studied at Carleton University. She served as the Director of Administration and Finance and Publication Production at North-South Institute Canada. Now retired and living in Ottawa, Claire is actively involved with the Olde Forge Community Resource Centre and the Blind Choir. During the pandemic, she wrote two books: her memoirs and a book of poems and short stories. Claire has lived with AMD for 20 years.


For the past 25 years, The Hon. Judy Sgro has served as Member of Parliament for the Humber River – Black Creek riding in Toronto. Prior to federal politics, MP Sgro served as a city councillor in Toronto. She has helped to shape policy on social housing, the promotion of human rights and religious freedoms, and most recently, she introduced Bill C 284 to establish a National Eye Care Strategy. The Bill, currently in its second reading in the Senate, supports the prevention and treatment of eye disease to ensure better health outcomes for Canadians.


Living in Kanata, Sheena is a retired nurse, midwife and lactation consultant who spent most of her career working at the Southeast Ottawa Community Health Centre. She ran a breastfeeding clinic for 17 years as well as multiple conferences for Ottawa Valley Lactation Consultants. In retirement, Sheena enjoys spending time with her two children, four grandchildren and reading Audible books. She has been part of a book club for 22 years. Sheena was diagnosed with geographic atrophy in 2016 and is currently taking part in a clinical trial.


The White Cane Week Conference and its sessions are proudly supported by:

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