Emily Minor, a student at St Theresa of Liseaux, did her project on Jer’s Vision and our director Jeremy Dias.
Check it out:
Jeremy Dias is the founder and director of Jer’s Vision, Canada’s Youth Diversity Initiative. He was born in Edmonton, Alberta, but moved to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario and went through high school there. As he experienced high school he participated in and started a number of charitable groups; however during high school he endured discrimination from his fellow students and members of the faculty there due to his sexuality. This led to him to start a legal case against his school board and school which developed into Canada’s second largest human rights settlement; which he won at the young age of 21. He used the money he won from the settlement to start Jer’s Vision and the Jer’s Vision Scholarship. In addition to directing Jer’s Vision he speaks to a variety of people about the issues of bullying and discrimination. I believe he illustrates all five of Jean Vanier’s principles of humanity.
Jean Vanier’s first principle is that all humans are sacred regardless of anything that can define them; for example, an 87 year old women living in poverty with Alzheimer’s disease is just as sacred as a 27 year old man who is rich and strong. Jeremy Dias shows this principle through his creation of Jer’s Vision. Jer’s Vision was created after Jeremy won his human rights settlement. Instead of using the money he had won from standing up against his mistreatment through his teen years for himself he decided to create Jer’s Vision. The purpose of this organization was to help kids who were being bullied due to their sexuality. He also felt that the money didn’t belong to him and belonged to them. When somebody bullies someone they show that they believe that they are more important or sacred then the people they are bullying. Jeremy knows this isn’t right and that everyone is equally important and should be treated that way despite sexual orientation or any other defining factors. Therefore all humans are sacred.
The second principle of humanity according to Jean Vanier is that our world and our lives are always changing and we hope we change positively. Due to Jeremy’s confidence in creating a lawsuit against the people that discriminated against him in high school it is clear he has changed since high school. He thinks he is more grown up now due to the fact that he is older and that he is now surer of himself. Another way he has changed is that when he was younger he used to live on hope and now he knows he can make things better and he doesn’t have to wait for them to become better. He is happy that he has changed but he still wonders what it would be like in high school if he was the person he is today back then. He feels if he did know what he knows now he may have been happier, but he appreciates what he had such as his supportive parents and friends who would always help him. He has changed positively because he didn’t hold grudges and he forgives the people that made him unhappy in high school. He said that sometimes bullies don’t realise they are being mean and that is why they continue to bully people. This shows he understands that sometimes people make mistakes and need to be forgiven. Jeremy Dias has changed positively due to the fact he has done so through an open and loving manner.
The third of Jean Vanier’s principles of humanity is that growth and maturity comes through working with others. Jeremy thinks that working with other people is about being positively constructive and that a mutual understanding is the purpose of working with others, also if you work with others instead of working against others more positive things can be achieved. I know that this understanding of this topic is learned through growth because as you grow as a person you realise what is important such as not just being critical for the sake of it. Jeremy Dias has had a large amount experience through working with people and has matured from it. Proof of this is that as stated before he thinks bullies sometimes don’t know they are being mean and that is the reason why they continue to bully people. This is an extremely mature statement especially coming from a person who was constantly bullied through high school and was actually a victim of bullying. He also believes it is the only way to address things and therefore allows people to grow because it resolves issues that may block people from personal growth. Working with others does indeed help you grow and mature.
Jean Vanier’s fourth principle of humanity is that human choice must be made for both yourself and others. When Jeremy chose to create Jer’s Vision it impacted his life as well as many people’s lives across Canada. When he won his law suit he created Jer’s Vision as a scholarship program. He felt it was the easiest way he could help people, but didn’t expect it to grow as it did. After the initial scholarship program he began to do some workshops and it just started to expand. He started Jer’s Vision and continues to keep it going because he wanted to make a difference and he feels special to be a part of it. He made these choices not only for himself, but for the other people around him. This shows that since he did not just consider himself when he received the money and he created happiness for numerous people across the country and himself. Jeremy Dias considered both himself and others when making the great decision of using the money from his law suit to create Jer’s Vision.
The last of Jean Vanier’s five principles is that making good choices involves reflecting and seeking the truth. Jeremy thinks about what he would be doing if he hadn’t had started Jer’s Vision much of the time. He thinks he would most likely be still involved in charity work. Due to the fact he was involved with impoverished charities in high school he thinks he would work for those charities; in particular aboriginal groups. The second job he thinks he may have been doing, but less likely is working at or in a place similar to Disney World because as he says it is “the most magical place on earth”. At Disney World he believes he may have a job in particular such as the tour guide for the Jungle Book Tour ride. When he reflects on his choice of starting Jer’s Vision he definitely believes he made the right decision. By thinking of what he could have done he determined he has made the right decision. When looking in comparison to the impoverished charity and Jer’s Vision for Jeremy; personally I believe that he has chosen a better truth to find. He has a connection with the gay bullying charity because he personally experienced it and by finding the truth about gay bullying he found a meaningful thing to do with his life which he relates to. Jeremy Dias has strived for the truth and reflected upon it to make sure he has made a good decision.
Therefore, Jeremy Dias is an inspiring person who clearly illustrates all five of Jean Vanier’s principles.