Greg McMeekin: Lawyer, advocate for people with disabilities

Greg McMeekin’s dreams are a lot like other people’s: to live independently, travel, have a family and a job he loves.

Greg McMeekin smiles while called to the bar during a ceremony at Calgary Courts Centre in Calgary, Alta., on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016. Lyle Aspinall / Postmedia Network

Barb Livingstone, The Calgary Herald January 3, 2016

But for the 43-year-old lawyer with cerebral palsy, who in 2016 made history by being admitted to the Alberta Bar, dreams take more of the persistence and tenacity he has consistently demonstrated since being born weighing only two pounds.

And while he determinedly overcame his physical challenges in the 13 years spent getting his law degree, he doesn’t want only that to define him.

“I don’t want to be known as a role model just because of my disability. I work hard, believe in being accountable, truthful and in helping others.”

McMeekin has spent most of his life ignoring boundaries others placed on him. He was the first physically disabled child to enrol in a city public school, rather than one for special-needs students; he fought to change how others were treated as a member of the Calgary Handi-bus Foundation and the Premier’s Council on the Status of Persons With Disabilities.

“I always considered myself normal, even though I was physically challenged.”

And, at the age of 16, McMeekin knew he wanted to be a lawyer, like his late father, Justice Tom McMeekin.

“Very early on, mom and dad told me I’d have to use my mind to be successful, because I couldn’t do a job of physical labour.”

He went to Ottawa’s Carleton University — “like every other child, I wanted to get away from my parents for awhile!” — and then articled at Alberta Justice.

Since his admittance to the bar last October, McMeekin has sought work, this time facing the added challenge of finding a job in an economic downturn.

In the meantime, he volunteers at Calgary Legal Guidance and continues his other passions: theatre, movies, sports and politics.

And, as he looks toward fulfilling more dreams in 2017, McMeekin’s advice for others echoes his own role model father: “try to see the good in all people.”

Source The Calgary Herald

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