The Quadriplegic Mayor

Posted on | March 3, 2008 | 10 Comments

Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan caught the attention of the international media back in 2006, when he accepted the flag at the closing ceremonies of the Turin Winter Olympics. He is Canada’s first disabled mayor and also the first quadriplegic mayor of a North American city.

The mayor was paralysed after a tragic skiing accident when he was 19. Apart from many other achievements in life, he is also well-known for his linguistic ability. The Tourism Vancouver website contains some multilingual video messages from Mayor Sullivan speaking English, French, Punjabi, Cantonese, Mandarin, and French.

The major does not like to be confined in a wheelchair either. Here is him going hiking:


In the following video clip posted only recently, the mayor shared his thoughts in Cantonese on a legendary Hong Kong actress, a resident of Vancouver, who passed away a few week ago. I was touched when I saw the disabled major, who can barely use of his feet and hands, signing his name in traditional Chinese.

Transcript and translation of the clip are available here.


10 Responses to “The Quadriplegic Mayor”

  1. unzum
    March 3rd, 2008 @ 5:35 pm

    This is such a beautiful story. Thanks for digging it up. Really inspiring.

  2. Jeffery Simpson
    March 3rd, 2008 @ 8:24 pm

    The sad thing is he’s a terrible mayor.

  3. Edwin
    March 3rd, 2008 @ 8:41 pm

    Who is not? Who thinks his own mayor is doing a good job? Once you get to a position like this, everyone is throwing stone at you.

  4. Rmss
    March 4th, 2008 @ 9:41 am

    Can’t judge about how he functions as a mayor, but from what I’ve seen he’s a great human being. He also has a nice sense of humor :).

    I’m wondering; did he learn all these languages before or after the accident? It’d be impressive both way, I think. Besides, he can write really well, especially if you see his situation.

  5. Edwin
    March 4th, 2008 @ 9:45 am

    I believe he learned Cantonese and Punjabi after he became a politicians. Both languages are widely spoken in Vancouver, and they have their strategic values to him.

  6. Keith
    March 13th, 2008 @ 8:40 am

    I can’t find the videos on the Tourism website.

  7. Edwin
    March 13th, 2008 @ 9:19 am

    The link is not very clear. sorry about that. Try this:

    There is a “Welcome message from the Mayor” link. Switch to different languages on the webpage to listen to different versions of the message.

  8. cecilie
    September 11th, 2008 @ 7:51 pm

    Wei dudeli-dude

    I can’t find the entry about meeeeee. Please give me a link. Meanwhile, check out the two episodes of my Cantonese course I’ve so far posted on YouTube!

    Cecilie Gamst Berg
    Hong Kong

  9. cecilie
    September 11th, 2008 @ 7:52 pm

    And it so is available! When I clicked from your site I couldn’t get to it. But you can search my name on YouTube

  10. Edwin
    September 11th, 2008 @ 10:06 pm

    Hi Cecilie,
    Nice to see you dropping by. I think you mean this post:

    Interesting video clips. Very funny. You should pull Sarah into your show!

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