An advocate, student, teacher, and music specialist, Stela Trudeau started volunteering with CNIB summer camps when her eye condition was formally diagnosed in 2015.
“I wanted to volunteer with CNIB because I wanted to learn more about vision loss and absorb some of the life skills that I was going to need, in an informal way," says Stela. "I learned a lot from that experience.”
Recently, Stela graduated from Wilfried Laurier University with an Honors Bachelor of Music Education degree, Minor in French studies.
“Overall, my university experience was really enjoyable. I always felt supported by the accessibility department at the university,” says Stela.
She worked with an accessibility consultant at Laurier to ensure she had all her accommodations in place when attending class.
“I think half the battle with post-secondary was learning how to advocate for myself and knowing what I needed in terms of accessible material and accommodations,” says Stela. “there are all types of accommodations you need to have sorted out before starting the program.”
When she’s not in school or working, Stela volunteers as a member of CNIB's National Youth Council.
“My friends spoke very highly of their experiences on the council, so I wanted to join to help advocate for equitable opportunities for youth who have sight loss,” says Stela.
As an executive member on the council, she helps ensure CNIB initiatives, programs, and policies reflect and respond to the needs of young people who are blind or partially sighted.
“As a council member, I’ve been part of a consultation team for a new CNIB project,” says Stela. “It’s been really rewarding. I now have a better understanding of CNIB and the work that goes on behind the scenes. It’s been great to learn from the staff, connect with the President & CEO of CNIB), and network with so many amazing people with sight loss.”
A classically trained singer, Stela is passionate about music and making it accessible to people who are blind or partially sighted. With the goal of becoming a music teacher, she is heading to teachers college at Wilfrid Laurier University in the fall.
“I think music is its own little language. It’s therapeutic, and it’s an escape,” says Stela. “I find joy in making and creating music with people, and I love sharing my passion for the arts with others.”
This summer, Stela is working as a music specialist for CNIB Lake Joe – her second summer on staff.
“In my role, I provide adaptive music and art programming. I love it. The CNIBLakeJoe@Home participants make my day – it feels like our own little club,” says Stela. “The most rewarding thing about being virtual is getting to meet people from across Canada who may not have been able to experience CNIB Lake Joe because of the distance. It's very special – we’re making new connections and exposing people to new opportunities because of the virtual nature of our programs.”
Stela also just booked a principal role in an episode of a popular Apple TV+ series!
To help celebrate International Youth Day, we asked Stela to share one piece of advice for children and youth with sight loss.
“There are no limitations. Simply adaptations. That’s a quote that I live by,” says Stela. "You can do anything you put your mind to, just be you!”