Getting a street named after someone in Vancouver is no small feat. For the last few years, a number of organizations, including DDA have been advocating to have a street in Vancouver named after Jeanette Andersen, who passed away in 2016 at the age of 77. With nearly 16 per cent of Canadians identifying as having a disability, we need heroes like Jeanette to get the recognition they so richly deserve.
On Wednesday, February 10th, 2021, the City of Vancouver proclaimed that a future street on the site of the George Pearson Redevelopment Project will bear Jeanette’s name. Currently, the George Pearson Centre at West 57th in Vancouver is home to 114 residents who have complex medical and physical needs. The redevelopment will replace the outdated Centre that was built in 1952 with homes that support individuals to live as independently as they choose in an inclusive community designed to meet their needs. This includes creating new housing units with supports and services integrated into residential towers. The planned community will be welcoming and accessible to everyone.
Jeanette Andersen was a champion. Despite being stricken with polio at a young age, she never gave up hope in making a difference for those with disabilities. Because of her illness, she spent much of her adolescence in an iron lung looking at the world through a tiny mirror positioned near her head.
Until her death, she mentored those who lived at Pearson Centre to show that despite disability it was possible to advocate and strive for independence. Jeanette was involved in many projects that helped shape the lives of those in B.C. and beyond. She knew that being included mattered and that the disability community is an integral part of the fabric of society.
Among her inexhaustible list of accomplishments was working hard to make her eventual home, Noble House, a model for accessibility. She helped create the Provincial Respiratory Outreach Program and collaborated with Board members at Disability Alliance BC to enable equality and inclusion for people with disabilities. She was an advisor to the City of Vancouver through its Persons with Disabilities Advisory Committee. Her list is much longer than this, and through her good works and belief in herself and others, her legacy will live on in the city she loved.
Once the George Pearson redevelopment is complete, a plaque highlighting her contribution to the community will be placed along Jeanette Street.