National Sickle Cell Awareness Day

By: The Hon. Jane Cordy

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Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, I’m pleased to speak to you today from the unceded land of the Mi’kmaq people.

On Saturday, June 19, Canada will once again celebrate National Sickle Cell Awareness Day as well as World Sickle Cell Day. As with most of our interactions over the past year, these celebrations will be held virtually. Nonetheless, we will join together as a community of those living with sickle cell disease and those who are carers, supporters and advocates.

This gathering, and the acknowledgment of June 19, are still so vital to the recognition of sickle cell disease in Canada, as well as to the Canadians who are living with sickle cell. While I would certainly prefer to be meeting in person, one of the advantages of the virtual world is that it widens the net, so to speak. It opens up the celebration to those who, because of distance or due to medical limitations, would be unable to attend and participate in person. Their stories are so important to how we move forward with a national strategy for testing and the treatment of this disease.

A few weeks ago, I was pleased to be a speaker for the African Congress on Sickle Cell Disease. This congress took place over several days, and it was very interesting to hear perspectives from all over the world about the approach to managing the disease within their regions. I look forward to speaking on Friday on a panel with the Sickle Cell Disease Association of Atlantic Canada, and then on Saturday delivering opening remarks for the Sickle Cell Disease Association of Canada. This year’s theme for Saturday’s event is focused around sharing sickle cell disease advocacy best practices.

Since my involvement with the sickle cell community — when I first met Lanre Tunji-Ajayi at an advocacy event on Parliament Hill in 2013 — I have witnessed how passionately groups here in Canada have worked on behalf of sickle cell patients. It has been incredible to join them in their efforts.

I would like to express my deepest thanks to Lanre Tunji-Ajayi, Biba Tinga and Rugi Jalloh for the work they have done and the work they continue to do with lots of other volunteers. They work tirelessly to keep sickle cell disease and the needs of those with sickle cell as their focus.

Honourable senators, please join us for virtual celebrations on Friday and Saturday, if you are able. And let’s celebrate National Sickle Cell Awareness Day. Thank you.

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