Celiac President’s Message

by Janet Dalziel, National President, Canadian Celiac Association

Hello everyone,

It seems a very short time ago that many of us were together in Winnipeg for our meetings, AGM and national conference. I found the whole atmosphere of my week there incredibly positive, with people volunteering to support initiatives, participating actively in the governance consultation process and sharing their good ideas.

Multiple kudos to conference cochairs Cathy Hanishchuk Morris and Susan Finlay and all their volunteers from the Manitoba chapter for providing an amazing program, more exhibitors than ever before and delicious meals and snacks in abundance. Many thanks to all the presidents and delegates for your participation and excellent input. To the hard-working members of the Professional Advisory Board and Board of Directors, my gratitude for your work on behalf of the CCA and our mission. As of tomorrow, we say good-bye and thank you to Barb deHaan and Nancy Robinson and welcome new RDs Bill Shank, Midwest, and Linda Dow, Quebec. This also means a re-organization of membership on our national standing committees.

I am also extremely grateful to Clarence Morris who continues to volunteer tirelessly, at the national level on the Governance Committee and also as a major part of the Winnipeg conference committee. Call him a prince, call him a saint, he deserves to be appropriately acknowledged for the generosity he has shown in sharing his time and expertise with the CCA, not to mention his constant good humour.

Fundraising
Our budget had a stated goal to raise $5,000 at the Winnipeg conference but our Fundraising Committee did not have a plan in place to do so, since many possible ways to raise money on site would create a burden for the local volunteers or require that national office staff attend and work. So, instead, we decided to just ask.

On Sunday morning, after the presentation on this year’s Awareness Campaign, conference attendees donated about $4500 to the cause. And then we received another cheque at the airport on the way home and that put us over the top.

Way to go!

In the meantime, our spring campaign is also working out well. Responses are still coming in so it is too early to provide a number but we are very optimistic about a successful campaign. Copies of our new Celiac News were mailed to several thousand lapsed members with a letter asking them to take a look at how well we are doing and to consider re-joining or becoming donors. The CCA was there for them when they needed help, the plea went, and their support is still needed.

A huge highlight of the banquet in Winnipeg, besides the food, was the procession of chapters donating to support the initiatives of the national CCA. We received over $11,000 from Edmonton, Halifax, Hamilton, Moncton, St. Catharines and Quebec for our operations as well as a startling and hugely gratifying cheque for more than $45,000 for our JA Campbell Research Fund. This was warmly and emotionally presented by Vic Mitchell, who originated the amazingly successful Cycling for Celiacs event ten years ago. What an inspiring idea he had then and how well it has worked to raise both money and awareness. Thank you one and all for your generosity and commitment to our work.

Allergic Living Magazine
The editors of Allergic Living Magazine are anxious to work more closely with the CCA and have told me about their plans to expand their coverage of celiac disease and the gluten-free diet in their upcoming issues. This is a stand-out Canadian magazine and Shelley Case writes a regular column for them.

Summer at the National Office
Last month I told you about our new bilingual staff member Sandy Proulx who has been busy figuring out the iMIS database functions. She is joined for a few weeks by summer student Dana Nunes, who comes from a background in kinesiology, has worked for a major drug company and is currently studying nursing. And she’s
bilingual too!

Summer office hours are now in effect and we close early every Friday at 1:00 pm. In addition, the office will be closed on Friday, July 2nd. We respect every Canadian’s duty to enjoy the warm weather when we can.

Health Canada and the Gluten-Free Regulation
The July 11th deadline for input into the Health Canada consultation process on changes to the regulation that defines gluten-free in Canada is fast approaching. The PAB members have spent a lot of quality time on the issue as has the national board and the executive committee. We have also sent out an online survey to several thousand members for whom we have email addresses in an effort to gauge how “regular celiac folks” feel about several issues.

As usual when you ask celiacs for their opinions and stories, the response has been enormous. Next week when we put it all together and prepare our submission, there will be some lively debate and good arguments. We expect that many individuals, professional groups and food industry people will also contribute to this conversation that Health Canada has begun.

Governance Progress and next Steps
Our Governance Committee members, some of whom you met in Winnipeg, immediately went to work on incorporating the feedback from our session into our documents.

These will be shared with you shortly. We also realized that, in order to complete each step of our work in time according to our plan and with the 2012 date for federal reincorporation looming over us, we would need to hold a face-to-face meeting this fall for this group. A date has now been set for early September.

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About David E. Fowler

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