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Issue 2 (Apr. 2022)

A word from our CEO- Shaun Dyer

SCI-AB was founded in 1961 by WWII survivor Pierre Gariepy, whose vision to support injured veterans to adapt, adjust and thrive despite their condition has been the bedrock of SCI-AB’s commitment to client care for more than half a century. This issue of Spinal Times highlights SCI-AB’s Client Service and Peer Programs, two vital streams of care for people living with a spinal cord injury and other disabilities here in Alberta.


Spinal cord injuries are devastating and disorienting, forcing clients and their support networks to engage the world in entirely new ways. That’s where SCI-AB’s Peer Program comes in. Our peer mentors connect with newly injured clients early on in their journey, often while still in acute care and then through rehab and beyond. Our peers help clients navigate the murky and traumatic early days following injury with guidance on everything from applying for resources to understanding what’s happening to their bodies to housing support as they adapt to a new way of thriving in the world. What sets our peer mentors apart is that they, too, live with spinal cord injuries. We often hear from clients that the fact that our peer mentors have “lived experience” lends credibility and fosters trust, providing clients with a degree of confidence and ease as they adjust.


Think back over your life. Who have been your mentors? Could you imagine where you’d be without them? Our clients often tell us that without our peer mentors, the path to thriving would have been far more complicated and daunting. So we celebrate our peer mentors and thank them for their humble and dedicated service to clients as they help them adapt, adjust, and thrive.  

Stewart's Story

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Stewart was 56 when he suffered a C4 traumatic spinal cord injury during a paragliding accident. He was a mechanical engineer, a recreational pilot and inspector for 37 years and held five world records in hang gliding. Immediately after his accident, Stewart remembers that he could not get up or move. “Part of me knew right away,” he recalls. When found by search & rescue and transferred to Foothills Hospital, he had persistent nightmares of not being able to get up. When he woke, Stewart remembers thinking, “That was the dream, and now this is the nightmare.” 

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Bridget's Story

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Bridget was only 16 when she suffered a T4 complete and C7 incomplete spinal cord injuries in a car accident. 43 years later, Bridget looks back and says, “I didn’t expect to go as far as I did.”

At the time of her accident, Bridget lived on a family farm in Saskatchewan. She admits that being in a wheelchair in a rural community was very difficult. So, just two years after her injury, at the age of 18, Bridget moved to Regina to work and be closer to the wheelchair community. “They opened my eyes to a whole new world of living that allowed me to expand my thoughts on being in a wheelchair and [realize that] there is so much in the world offered to me,” she recalls. 

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Nicole's Story


Nicole’s life changed two years ago after being critically injured in a biking accident. Nicole and her partner, Drew, were on vacation in Costa Rica when Nicole’s bike caught an edge, and she fell off the cliff. When admitted to the hospital, Nicole had multiple injuries, including a broken rib cage, contusions, a fractured shoulder, collapsed lungs, and T5 complete spinal cord injury. After stabilizing her spine, Nicole was flown back home to Edmonton, admitted to the University of Alberta Trauma Unit, and then to the Glenrose Hospital to start her rehab. Unfortunately, a few weeks later, the pandemic started, and Nicole found herself isolated from family, friends, and Drew.

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