Belonging

Seeing Hamilton Through Fresh Eyes

A newcomer to Hamilton makes an important observation about people with disabilities.

By Michelle Martin
Published August 04, 2017

I stepped out of the office to grab lunch the other day and had occasion to provide some direction to a lovely young newcomer family. They needed to know which bus to take to get to where they needed to go. I told them I could show them exactly which bus they would need to take.

They were a little harried (who wouldn't be, under the circumstances?), so I reassured them that I teach bus routes to adults with developmental disabilities for a living. This led mom to remark that there seems to be a lot of people using mobility devices in the downtown area.

"Yes," I said, not quite sure where the conversation was heading, since most Hamiltonians I have heard remark about mobility devices downtown are usually snarking about it.

She told me that it was great to see all these people with disabilities out and about, and that they must get a lot of help here.

"They do," I said, and agreed with her that this is a good thing. She told me it was not like at home, where people with disabilities don't go out - they stay in.

We shook hands all around and they got on their bus. I saw them off with a "Welcome to Canada" that was genuine and heartfelt - we need their fresh perspective.

Welcome to Canada. Welcome to downtown Hamilton. Welcome everybody to downtown Hamilton.

Michelle Martin and her husband are watching their 10 children reach adulthood one by one in Hamilton, where they relocated from Toronto 17 years ago. She has been published in both the Hamilton Spectator and Raise the Hammer, as well as in the online edition of the National Post. Michelle has worked in the developmental services sector for many years, most recently as coordinator of the Community Access to Transportation program. However, the opinions she expresses in Raise the Hammer are her own. She sometimes tweets @deltawestmom

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