Pioneer for disabled community Earl Flynn remembered in Glace Bay
Published Tuesday, July 31, 2012 6:51PM ADT
Last Updated Tuesday, July 31, 2012 7:42PM ADT
People across Nova Scotia are today remembering a man considered a pioneer for the rights of people with disabilities.
Glace Bay residents paid their final respects to Earl Flynn, who passed away Thursday.
Flynn was known to many as the spiritual godfather of Cape Breton’s disabled community, although his fight for equal rights didn’t stop at the Canso Causeway – it extended well beyond the Island’s borders.
“He was on different boards and they were local, provincial and national and he made a difference on all of them,” says Marcie Shwery-Stanley of the Society for Improvement of Accessible Transportation. “For Earl, it was a labour of love.”
Flynn became chair of Cape Breton’s Community Involvement for the Disabled. He then rose to the same position for a province-wide organization, serving until his death at 63 years of age.
“He brought great wisdom, compassion, knowledge and life experience to all the tables that he sat at,” says Lois Miller of the Nova Scotia League for Equal Opportunities.
“Earl was very well known, very well respected here in Glace Bay. You couldn’t get a stronger advocate,” says Glace Bay area councillor Lee McNeil.
Born with spina bifida and suffering from lung problems later in life, Flynn’s dedication transcended his disabilities.
“There were times when he’d come to our meetings with his oxygen tank, but he’d be there. He truly loved it,” says Shwery-Stanley.
Outside of his work, Flynn was a familiar sight in Glace Bay. He took daily walks, often sporting his Toronto Maple Leafs jersey.
“I remember Earl as…as a tireless worker and somebody who truly wanted to improve things for people with disabilities and there’s not too many around now like Earl,” says Shewry-Stanley.
Flynn’s legacy will be many things, but most of all he will be remembered for helping Nova Scotia become a place where people with disabilities can live more ably.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Ryan MacDonald