Human Rights Commission gets new director
The first quadriplegic man to reach the North Pole is the new director and CEO of Nova Scotia's Human Rights Commission.
David Shannon is a lawyer, author and human rights advocate and received the Order of Canada last year for his contribution to human rights.
Shannon is a Dartmouth native and was previously a member of the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal and a special adviser to the Canadian Paraplegic Association of Ontario.
As a teenager, he played rugby at Prince Andrew High School in Dartmouth and made the team for the Canada Games.
"Had my 18th birthday just the day after the games completed," Shannon told reporters on Thursday.
"Three weeks later, I broke my neck during a rugby practice. Having broken my neck, I was a quadriplegic."
By the time Shannon made his journey to the North Pole in 2009, he'd already completed a 9,000-kilometre-long trek across Canada to promote inclusion for all Canadians.
That trip was made over 197 days in 1997.
According to the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission website, Shannon also holds the world record for the highest altitude skydive by someone in a wheelchair after falling 28,500 feet.
"As we know, the North Pole is the exemplar of barriers on this earth in many respects," he said.
When asked about accessibility in Halifax, Shannon said the city had come "leaps and bounds" since he suffered his injury.
"My injury was 30 years ago. I couldn't find a taxi, difficulty finding housing and it was hard to find a curb cut. That's all changed, so we have come a long way," he said.
"In a sense, maybe I came to understand two sides of the discrimination divide. One is a vibrant suburban boy in Dartmouth, then in the very next minute, a quadriplegic. And experiencing some of the discrimination that people with disabilities do experience."
Shannon will take over the role effective immediately.
Ross Landry, the minister responsible for the Human Rights Commission, said he was pleased with Shannon's appointment.
"I'm very pleased that someone of Mr. Shannon's impressive background, experience and dedication will be leading Nova Scotia's Human Rights Commission," Ross said in a statement.
"He will be a strong asset for the commission, and a strong advocate for human rights in this province."