College of Family Physicians of Canada honour Global Civic founder Sam Sullivan

Source: Vancouver Sun

Former Vancouver mayor Sam Sullivan’s sympathetic stance toward the homeless, the drug-addicted and the mentally ill may have cost him politically, but on Saturday thousands of family doctors recognized his contributions to improving the health of those sections of society.

The 24,000-member College of Family Physicians of Canada awarded Sullivan one of three honorary memberships for 2010.

In a press release, the College noted Sullivan’s “commitment to addressing many challenges of vital concern to the population, including quality of life of the disabled, the needs of the homeless and inner-city populations, programs for those battling drug and substance abuse, and preservation of the environment.”

Sullivan was the only former mayor among the college’s recipients and it added that Sullivan’s skiing accident, which left him paralyzed at 19, laid the basis for his advocacy work. In an interview Friday, Sullivan confirmed there was a link between his disability and his continuing work in the Downtown Eastside.

“I feel very close to people with drug addictions and mental illness because they have a disability — in my mind — and I have a disability as well.”

He said that several hundred years ago physical disabilities were often treated as moral issues, but because of the work of the medical profession, perceptions changed.

“My hope is that we will one day get to the point where mental illness and drug addiction and these kind of things are no longer moral issues — they’re health issues,” he said.

rcoppin@vancouversun.com

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