Dianne Lesperance

Posted by on Jul 15, 2015 in Tributes |


A Community Project to honour women who have enriched our lives

The Ban Righ Centre supports mature women who are starting or returning to education at Queen’s University. In taking this significant step, these women found role models, advocates and inspiration in other women. Then, as they engage in their studies and in their activities beyond Queen’s with friends, family, peers and colleagues, these students effect continual and positive change, extending the reach of their mentors and the Ban Righ Centre. Through “Who Is She?” we honour women who make a difference.

Dianne Lesperance

Honoured by: Shirley Brooks Purkis

She was 19 the summer Dianne was on the back of a motorcycle that hit a tree. She had graduated Grade 13 that June 1966.

After weeks in a coma, months in isolation and a year in Lyndhurst Paraplegic Hospital, she decided, “there is no way that I can walk again, stop trying for that, get in a chair and do something”. In residence at Western, she changed the inaccessible to accessible and when graduating, wheeled herself across the stage. For years, she drove herself to nursing homes to advocate for those without family. She volunteered for operations to implant battery-operated gadgets. She worked on spinal-research committees and because of her upbeat attitude spoke to disabled others. Her courage, independence, and concern for others is evident even as her body deteriorates and she is grounded from her electric chair in Parkwood Hospital. Yet she says, “When I look around me, I see how lucky I am”.

Thank you for giving those of us who have so much, the reality to appreciate everything.

~Shirley Brooks Purkis