The Canadian Vision Teachers Conference (CVTC) 2009 was held for the first time in Alberta last week in the picturesque mountain setting of Banff. The conference boasted a record number of participants this year at 209, and the attendees were not only treated to a breathtaking setting for the conference, but to a well-run event as well.
This year’s conference was held at the Banff Centre, and although the site was under construction during the event, the staff at the Centre still managed to provide nothing short of stellar service and premium food. Attendees from all over the globe were in attendance, which helped to give the conference an international twist. Among those who traveled a great distance to attend was Dr. Lea Hyvärinen of Finland, a world-renowned ophthalmologist. Dr. Hyvärinen was extremely generous with her time during the event and gave two different sessions; in addition, she made herself available for a variety of informal questions and discussions throughout the event. Other notable speakers included Dr. Ann MacCuspie, Dr. Kevin Stewart and Dr. Cay Holbrook whose opening keynote address offered the audience an opportunity to examine the state of vision education across Canada. Dr. Stewart also gave a pre-conference presentation on early Orientation and Mobility skills with Tanni Anthony. Larry Campbell, President of ICEVI, also gave a keynote address, which pertained to vision education on a more global scale. Mr. Campbell challenged us as Canadian vision teachers to become more involved in the global state of affairs. Along those lines, ICEVI was the beneficiary of almost $5000, which was raised by having a silent auction during the conference banquet. The banquet was indeed an evening to celebrate as Donovan Tildesley, a Canadian Paralympian in swimming, also treated us to a speech that evening. In addition to his remarkable athletic abilities, Donovan proved to be an inspiring speaker and reminded the audience of the importance of maintaining balance in one’s life. Lastly, Mike May, author of Crashing Through, presented on the final day of the conference. Mr. May’s story and zest for life are truly inspirational and surely exemplified our conference theme of ‘Climbing High and Leading the Way’.
In addition to the above main events, teaching and service awards were also presented at the conference. Freya Martinot of Manitoba and Harvinder Nahal of British Columbia were both recipients of this year’s Excellence in Teaching Award, while Dr. Sally Rogow was awarded the Distinguished Service Award. Congratulations to all three of these very deserving award-winners! .
The Canadian Vision Teachers Conference 2009 proved to be a very busy, but very stimulating three-day event. In addition to the keynote presentation and preconference sessions, six different breakout sessions were held. This allowed upwards of thirty different presentations to occur during the conference! Indeed there was something for everyone at this event.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, this conference presented us with a wonderful opportunity to come together as Canadian professionals and paraprofessionals working in the field of blindness and visual impairment. By coming together, we can only get stronger as a group, and this will ultimately allow us to better serve the children that we work with. Join us again in Toronto for CVTC 2011!