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Kerry's Korner - We Hear You, Nigel!

Posted By:  Kerry Voth on Apr 22, 2020  |  3 Comments

There are times when we all feel overwhelmed by the challenges that life throws at us, and this is especially true during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our lives have been thrown into chaos! We grow weary of the constant turmoil, and we feel overwhelmed by the lack of normalcy. Slowly driven crazy by the absence of our beloved routines, our minds wander to strange places:

-Why is it “19”...what happened to COVIDs 1 through 18?

-Have they added that bitter taste to antifreeze yet, or can I still use it as a garnish for hubby's favourite meal tonight?

-Is it legal to duct-tape your children to the wall during a pandemic?

Fortunately during these difficult and trying times, special people have come along to guide us and give us hope. Prime Minister Trudeau, John Horgan, and Adrian Dix have done a great job presenting the facts in a calm-yet-completely-honest fashion. Canadian Minister of Health Theresa Tam and BC’s very own Dr Bonnie Henry have become our COVID-Moms...gently guiding us through the stress of each day with their quiet, steady compassion.

But there is one special standout for me...everyone's favourite "sign language hero", Nigel Howard. 

As everyone knows, Nigel is the American Sign Language interpreter who communicates important COVID-19 health information to the hearing impaired community through the media. I watch for him on the news every night. He always manages to bring a smile to my face, even when a smile can be really hard to find. I genuinely miss him when he doesn't turn up.

But why do I find him so captivating? I’m not deaf, I don’t understand sign language (in fact I only know how to communicate one emotion with my fingers and it never brought a smile to anyone’s face). There are so many other signers who do a great job...what is it about Nigel that makes me smile?

It took awhile for me to realize that Nigel's message isn’t just for the hearing impaired at all...he has an important message for each and every one of us! And the more we learn about him, the clearer his message becomes.

Nigel is deaf himself and has an off-camera "hearing interpreter" signing to him as he re-communicates the message...amazing! A UVIC professor and a professional interpreter for over 20 years...incredible! Works in the linguistics department of UBC and is an instructor at Douglas!

Most of us are stressed out by the lack of toilet paper and hand sanitizer. We watch in horror as our well-coiffed hairstyles turn into a “Seth Rogen”! We can’t even imagine how challenging a hearing impairment must be!

And along comes Nigel. Not content to simply do a great job and go home, Nigel has elevated signing to the level of a performance art! Night after night, he knocks it out of the park with a spirited Oscar-worthy performance!

And therein lies Nigel’s important message to all of us: no matter how difficult your obstacles may be, no matter how insurmountable your challenges may seem, you can overcome anything with a positive attitude! If you try your best and never give up, you can accomplish anything! Nigel is living, breathing proof of the resiliency, strength and grace of the human spirit, and it’s a perfectly-timed reminder.

Oh no, Nigel's message isn’t just for the hearing impaired at all...he has an important message for all of us. And we hear you Nigel, loud and clear!

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Kerry, I have known you for all these years, and had no idea you were a writer., not only handsome but humble....I loved this piece on Nigel.. I will now watch him just to see all the excitement...
From: BJ Cook
Entered: May 6, 2020
Thanks, Kerry! Instinctively liked Nigel from the first time we saw him. Glad to know more about him.
From: Jackie Carey
Entered: Apr 23, 2020
Thank you for that well written piece about everyone's favorite interpreter.
From: Scott Lowe
Entered: Apr 22, 2020

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