Joanne McLeod is recognized internationally as a pioneering leader in accessibility for the physically disabled. She is a Queen’s Counsel and a member of the Order of Canada. Joanne became a paraplegic in 1954 when there were no services available in New Brunswick for people with physical disabilities. She has dedicated her considerable energies and determination to raising awareness of the need for such services, and then founding and improving them.
Joanne was the first paraplegic to attend the University of New Brunswick and received both arts and law degrees. She holds an honorary Doctorate of Laws in Social Services from the Université de Moncton.
Joanne was the first Executive Director of the New Brunswick Division of the Canadian Paraplegic Association (CPA), as well as the first woman in Canada to hold the position of ED of a CPA division. Through these years she worked closely with Dr. L.E. Bashow, the first medical director of the Forest Hill Rehabilitation Centre (the precursor to the Stan Cassidy Centre and Foundation), locating people with spinal cord injuries and other debilitating conditions. Joanne then served as a volunteer Board Director of the NB CPA and the National CPA. She was elected National President, again the first woman to hold this position.
Joanne was a founding member of the New Brunswick Premier’s Council on the Status of Disabled Persons.
Joanne has appeared before the Supreme Court of Canada as the Legal Counsel for the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission. She was part of the Canadian delegation to the United Nations to report on Canada’s implementation of the International Covenant on Social and Cultural Rights.
Joanne has served on numerous federal and provincial boards and commissions, often in a pioneering role, including:
- the RCMP External Review Committee
- the National Research Council (Canada) on Research and Development for Disabled Persons
- the Advisory Committee to the Federal President of Treasury Board on Employment of Disabled Persons and
- the Canadian Organizing Committee for the International Year of Disabled Persons.
Joanne lives in Fredericton with her husband Gordon.