The 26th annual Dr. John Davis Burton Award ceremony was held on November 30th, 2018 at Carleton University. This award recognizes select postsecondary students from Algonquin College, Carleton University, La Cité Collégiale, and the University of Ottawa for their exceptional contributions to accessibility within their home institution as well as their larger communities.
Erin Carr, 3L, applies herself not just to her academics but also to disability advocacy, balancing a full course load with volunteer work, and dedicating herself to raising awareness to the human rights obstacles that individuals with disabilities [still] face. During the fall of 2017, alongside one of her colleagues, she organized The Duty to Accommodate: Disability Discrimination in the Workplace and Classroom conference. This conference addressed current issues faced by persons with disabilities at work and at school. As well, she did research in the matter of Delta Air Lines Inc v. Lukacs which was heard by the Supreme Court of Canada, and counsel incorporated her research into oral argument. She did both of these initiatives as part of the Disability Rights Practicum offered by Professor Ravi Malhotra and Professor Anne Levesque to support the Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD), the leading cross-disability rights organization in Canada.
Applying what she learns in her studies to influence real-life change, Carr volunteered for the Ticket Defense Program, a mobile legal clinic that provides free legal services to Ottawa’s homeless and street-involved population.
“I do not take for granted that I am in a position to help others,” Carr noted to the Dr. John Davis Burton Selection Committee. Carr clearly sets herself apart as a leader in advancing accessibility and human rights for individuals with disabilities in Canada. Her dedication to impacting real-world difference sets her apart as an innovator and leader in the future of human rights and awareness.
Dr. John Davis Burton championed and advocated for persons with disabilities. He made significant contributions to increasing awareness, equality and integration of persons with disabilities throughout his career as an educator and coordinator of educational support services. He was an advocate for equal access to education, believing in training for educators as well as support services for the students. Burton taught in the Faculty of Education at the University of Ottawa and coordinated programs and services for deaf, deafened and hard of hearing students, as well as students with learning disabilities at Algonquin College and Carleton University. In memory of Burton, family, students and friends endowed this award in 1992.