Current Patrons, Partners, Dignitaries



Their Excellencies the Right Honorable David Johnston, C.C., C.M.M., C.O.M., C.D., Governor General of Canada and Mrs. Sharon Johnston, C.C.

Canadian Council of the Blind is most honoured to have the esteemed Right Honorable David Johnston, C.C., C.M.M., C.O.M., C.D., Governor General of Canada and Mrs. Sharon Johnston, C.C. serve as Patrons of CCB.

David Johnston began his professional career as an assistant professor in the Faculty of Law at Queen’s University in 1966, moving to the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law in 1968. He became dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Western Ontario in 1974. In 1979, he was named principal and vice-chancellor of McGill University, and in July 1994, he returned to teaching as a full-time professor in the McGill Faculty of Law. In June 1999, he became the fifth president of the University of Waterloo.

Mr. Johnston has served on many provincial and federal task forces and committees, and has also served on the boards of a number of public companies. He was president of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada and of the Conférence des recteurs et des principaux des universités du Québec. He was the founding chair of the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy and chaired the federal government’s Information Highway Advisory Council.

His academic specializations include securities regulation, information technology and corporate law. Mr. Johnston holds an LL.B. from Queen’s University (1966); an LL.B. from the University of Cambridge (1965); and an AB from Harvard University (1963). While at Harvard, he was twice selected for the All-American hockey team and was named to Harvard’s Athletic Hall of Fame. He was the first non-American to chair Harvard’s Board of Overseers.

He is the author or co-author of 24 books including new editions, holds honorary doctorates from over 20 universities and is a Companion of the Order of Canada.

He was born in Sudbury, Ontario, and is married to Sharon Johnston. They have five daughters and 11 grandchildren.

Sworn in on October 1, 2010, His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston is the 28th governor general since Confederation.

Sharon Johnston graduated from the University of Toronto in 1966 as a physical and occupational therapist, and subsequently worked in the area of child psychiatry. When the Johnston family moved to Montréal, she completed her master’s and doctorate degrees in rehabilitation science. At the master’s level, she studied a more effective way of clearing the small airways of cystic fibrosis sufferers. Her doctoral thesis examined the coordination of respiratory muscles during normal speech, stuttered speech and singing. Her thesis resulted in the publication of scientific articles on respiratory mechanics.

During the 20 years the family lived in Montréal, Mrs. Johnston ensured their five daughters became fluently bilingual. Now, as adults and professionals, they speak many other languages.

While in Montréal, she volunteered her time on many administrative boards, including the Collège Marie de France, in Montréal, and Bishop’s College School, in Lennoxville, Quebec. She was also a founding member of the Friends of the Neuro volunteer group at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital.

In 1999, Mr. and Mrs. Johnston moved from Montréal to Waterloo, Ontario. While Mr. Johnston was occupied running the University of Waterloo, Mrs. Johnston began an entirely new life at a hundred-acre farm and small horse-boarding business called Chatterbox Farm, which she managed for 12 years.

Farming and horses were entirely new to her, but suddenly this new adventure became a true passion. From its modest beginnings, Chatterbox Farm was a very successful horse-training centre in classical dressage.

Mrs. Johnston also wrote an autobiographical essay for inclusion in a collection on notable women of Montréal, and will soon be publishing a novel. The novel is a fictional account of life in southwestern Alberta during a colourful, post-Great War era, based on her grandmother’s experiences.


chen quanzhou

Mr. Chen Quanzhou, Chinese Businessman and Philanthropist

 Louise Gillis, President, is pleased to announce that prominent Chinese businessman and philanthropist Mr. Chen Quanzhou has accepted an invitation to become a patron of the Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB). The CCB formalized this relationship in a ceremony in China in October 2014. “We are extremely fortunate to have Mr. Chen’s advice and leadership as the CCB continues to address issues that confront those with vision loss which has no boundaries of country, race, religion, age, or gender”, said Ms. Gillis.
Mr. Chen Quanzhou is the Chairman of CiHang Group, President of Hebei Cultural Exchange Association, a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) of Hebei Province, a member of Standing Committee of CPPCC of Shijiazhuang City and the deputy director of the Religious Committee of the CPPCC in Hebei Province, China. Mr. Chen is also the Chairman of Hebei CiShi Charity Foundation which focuses on disaster relief, medical aid, alleviation of poverty, promotion of education, cultural exchanges and environmental protection.

For the past twenty years, Mr. Chen has developed his corporation to encompass a variety of business activities and uses his own financial resources toward philanthropic endeavors. Recently, under a collaborative agreement, Mr. Chen is adopting the CCB’s mobile eye clinic concept for children in rural China. Mr. Chen will be assisting the CCB in other projects in Canada to help those disabled to be healthy and independent.

Mr. Chen Quanzhou is a world leader in social enterprise. His commitment is encapsulated under his company’s commitment: “Society First, Profit Second.” The CiHang Group focuses on 10 strategic areas: information and technology, international trade, medical devices, mining, agriculture, metallurgy, culture exchange, real estate, tourism and charitable activities.

The CCB is fortunate to have Mr. Chen as a mentor as it integrates social enterprise into its program platform where the blind and vision impaired have the highest unemployment (almost 70%) and the lowest per capita income of any disabled group in Canada.



asha seth

The Honourable Dr. Asha Seth


Louise Gillis, President, has the pleasure to announce that Dr. Asha Seth has consented to be a patron of the Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB). States Ms. Gillis: “Not only Dr. Seth is a leader in her field in obstetrics and gynecology, but in her position as a former Senator and philanthropist brings an unmitigated passion and commitment for prevention of vision loss. She is an icon.” Dr. Seth is also on the Board of Directors of the CNIB.

Dr. Seth completed her Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) at The King Georges Medical College in India. While completing her education, Dr. Seth also played a key part in organizing a blood donation clinic for the India Army during the Indo China conflict in 1962. After medical school in India, Dr. Asha Seth moved to the U.K. where she began training at Queen Charlotte Hospital and concluded at Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading, U.K. When Dr. Asha Seth moved to Canada in 1976, she continued her training at St. Joseph’s Health Centre and Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.
Not long after, she began operating her own private family practice in Obstetrics and Gynecology in Toronto. Dr. Seth is recognized as a pioneer and patient advocate in the medical field and received the prestigious Council Award from the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons in 2010.

Dr. Asha Seth is supported by her dedicated husband, Dr. Arun Seth and her two loving daughters, Dr. Anila Seth Sharma, an Endocrinologist and Angie (Seth) Stanjevich, an award winning Freelance Journalist and On Air Reporter with Global NewsTelevision, and four loving grandchildren.

An active philanthropist, Dr. Seth has an extensive history of outstanding leadership and dedication to a broad array of charities serving the local and international communities. She is the founding President of The NIMDAC Foundation, a registered, non-profit, charitable foundation, operated in association with the Northern Indian Medical & Dental Association of Canada. While building her medical profession, she began establishing horizontal linkages with various section of society with her strong desire to give back to society through her philanthropic work, Seth has spent countless hours to establish this foundation.

Dr. Asha Seth became Canada’s first Indo-Canadian female Senator on January 25th, 2012 and retired on December 15, 2014. While in the Senate, Dr. Seth worked tirelessly to bring awareness to the issues affecting multicultural communities in Canada through community outreach initiatives. She worked closely with several organizations who specifically work with South Asian Women and regularly attended conferences on this subject. Senator Seth works with a number of Indo-Canadian institutions in Canada to support strengthening ties between India and Canada. She has also made several trips to India on this endeavor, and most recently as part of a delegation with Prime Minister Stephen Harper. In addition, she actively promoted women’s rights and gender equality in the Senate.