Jeanette Andersen spent much of her adolescence in an iron lung looking at the world through a tiny mirror positioned near her head. There is a beautiful photograph of her from this time and she is gazing lovingly at her mother. That loving gaze is one that Jeanette gave to so many people in her life – family friends and strangers. She possessed a remarkable openness to the world, perhaps because she had spent so many years with only a mirror. Her presence always took the rough edges off life because she was sincerely kind, generous and empathetic in any encounter with anyone. She forgave everyone even when they behaved badly. She believed that there was always a solution as long as good people came together and forged one. She was the quiet diplomat in any gathering, always looking for the best in people and usually finding it because people wanted to meet her expectations.
Jeanette’s gifts brought much good to the world. She was involved in so many projects like: working to make her eventual home, Nobel House, a model for accessibility; helping to create the Provincial Respiratory Outreach Program; collaborating with other Board members at Disability Alliance BC to enable equality and inclusion for people with disabilities; advising the City of Vancouver through its Persons with Disabilities Advisory Committee. Jeanette rarely said no to any opportunity to advise, bear witness, or testify. She mentored Pearson residents because she loved her home and she wanted others to have the chance to create their own homes.
Jeanette was a founding member of PROP and an active TIL user. She and Heather Morrison became our peer leaders when PROP was created and Jeanette retained this role until her death. Losing both Simon Cox and Jeannette Andersen within the last few months is quite a blow for all of us at BCITS. Their loss compels us to reflect on their legacies. One of Jeanette’s legacies will surely be that an open heart can change the world.