World War II to White Cane Week: The History of the CCB
Education and Advocacy A look to the Canadian Council of the Blind's past and future in honour of its 75th anniversary.
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB).
The organization's conception was not unlike that of its mother organization, the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB), as both owe a lot of their early achievements to the work done by returning blind and vision-restricted war veterans.
An unmet need
Following World War I and in the years after World War II, there was much to be done for the blind in Canada. Dedicated stakeholder groups organized access to services across the country and did so in co-operation with like-minded organizations throughout North America and the British Empire.
At the time, many improvements had been realized for the blind — libraries and schools for the blind had been established in Canada's biggest cities — but there was a need for more resources. The CCB was, in good part, created by 10 blind men who met regularly in Toronto. Their primary idea was to obtain a lifelong pension for the blind — similar to what was occurring at the time in some European countries — but they soon realized that recreational activities among the blind and partially-sighted could be organized into nationwide competitions for the enjoyment of all.
They sold the upper echelons of CNIB on their idea and were soon provided seed money, financial support, and office space in the CNIB's London, ON facility. The CCB was born.
Following World War I and in the years after World War II, there was much to be done for the blind in Canada.
Collaboration leads to success
Press and radio publicity surrounding the organization and its initiatives soon followed and on Feb. 3rd, 1946, the CNIB and CCB jointly proclaimed the first White Cane Week in Canada. To this day, White Cane Week has occupied the same space on the calendar, the first full week of February, and it has also maintained its original purpose: publicizing the abilities of the blind and partially-sighted rather than emphasizing the disability blindness itself presents.
A national bowling tournament was organized by the Council very early on, with trophies established for blind and partially-sighted men and women. These recreational activities continue at CCB chapters across Canada and have been expanded in many places to include blind sports such as sailing, baseball, water sports, golf, goalball, and curling events each year.
As we look forward to more collaboration, success, and discovery, we remember everyone who has played a role in the CCB's progress in pursuit of our ultimate mission: to make our lives better physically, economically, socially, and mentally and in doing so, change what it means to be blind.