Connie Groleau (Edmonton, Canada) describes her journey of how her painting Friendship was created. It all started when she had a car accident many years ago that she lost most of her hearing. Connie reflects, "At the time I was devastated, but now, looking back it was a significant and life changing experience. This event was the beginning of my journey into the world of ASL."
Connie enrolled in ASL/Ameslan classes in the evenings when she believed that her hearing would never be restored. In the next few years, her hearing eventually returned and she ceased taking ASL classes as she saw no reason for continuing taking ASL classes. As time passed by, she met an Ameslan/Deaf friend who offered to teach her ASL. Her interest and passion deepened as their friendship grew. She decided to continue her studies in ASL when she saw an opportunity in the interpreting field.
Friendship, painting by Connie Groleau. Photograph by Jolanta Lapiak.
Connie explains, "The thought of what a great gift he had given me kept returning to my mind and I knew that somehow a 'thank you' of equal importance needed to be given in return. It had to be meaningful and from my heart. I looked around in stores for that perfect gift but it was nowhere to be found. One day the thought struck me, "why don't I do a painting for him?" Perfect, she thought.
Her action of thought is a perfect example of how she returns the gift of equal value and how she respects this language of the Ameslan culture, for ASL/Ameslan is Deaf culture's most precious identity. Anyone who receives this language from the Deaf/Ameslan culture is a truly blessed gift. Connie is one of some people who truly appreciates and respects the Ameslan/ASL people's language and culture.
In addition, she made further contribution to the Ameslan community by reproducing copies of this painting and donating the proceeds to the ASL/Deaf sports organization in Alberta. Connie explains, "the message in this painting belongs to everyone [in the ASL/Deaf community] and I do not feel justified in making monies from ASL." She is an example of practicing her personal ethics.
Groleau Connie. Journal and statement, February 2009.
Photograph and journal: reprint permission from Connie Groleau, February 2009.