Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, I rise today to recognize the month of September as Sickle Cell Awareness Month. Sickle cell organizations across Canada use this month to raise the profile of sickle cell disease and to improve the disease management skills of individuals, their families and their caregivers. Furthermore, it is an opportunity to roll out educational activities among care providers, to increase knowledge of the disease and to reduce stigma and systemic racism experienced by individuals when seeking medical care.
This year’s theme is “The Lesser Told Stories of siblings with Sickle Cell Disease.” Lanre Tunji-Ajayi, an active leader within the sickle cell community and president of the Sickle Cell Awareness Group of Ontario, speaks often of her experiences as the eldest of eight and having two siblings with sickle cell disease. Lanre continues to support those with sickle cell disease here in Canada and around the world.
Due to the nature of the disease, it is very difficult for those living with sickle cell disease to continue their education and to work at the same time. Because of this, the Sickle Cell Awareness Group of Ontario has established the Sunday Afolabi Scholarship Grant and the Sholape Animashaun Scholarship Grant for Canadians with sickle cell disease to inspire and to help them in their pursuit of higher education. Honourable senators, this funding is instrumental in allowing Canadians with sickle cell disease to achieve their dreams while still managing their day-to-day living with the disease.
Honourable senators, it is truly remarkable the work that is being done by Canadians affected by sickle cell disease. Their commitment to furthering awareness and effecting change is second to none. I have been so fortunate to meet many of them, and they have been so open and honest when sharing their stories.
While there is an acute focus during the month of September and for National Sickle Cell Awareness Day on June 19 of every year, it is important that we keep these Canadians in the forefront throughout the rest of the year as well. I urge you to learn more about sickle cell disease and invite you to take part in the virtual Sickle Cell Summit on November 4 and 5, whose theme for 2022 is “Delivering Equity in Sickle Cell Disease, Lessons from the Pandemic.” Those living with sickle cell disease, as well as their families and caregivers, are eager to share their stories with you.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.