Interview with Don McClelland
Tell me about yourself, you can start wherever you would like to.
I was born on March 31st, 1945 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. I moved to Langley, British Columbia in 1955 and I attended North Otter Elementary. I was only there for grades 4th, 5th, and 6th. Afterward, I went to Aldergrove Jr. Sr. High School.
I worked in the truss industry in the lower mainland. In 2000, I started working as a permittee teamster, doing day calls in the movie industry. Then, I did a complete show day. I did 3 complete shows with a production company. I loved that company and all the people that worked there. The producer was the great Debra Gabler Legacy. I got a part in 2 of the productions. When the government stopped giving tax breaks for Canadian employees, the movie industry died overnight in British Columbia.
That’s when I went to work for sonic drill manufacturing. I loved my job. The management was great, and my coworkers were respectful. One day, the owner was standing behind me, watching me assemble and all. He asked me if I could do that on my own. I said yes. In 2 days, I was on the plane to Holland and I’ve been there six times. Also, I’ve been to England, France, Milwaukie, Orlando, Peru, and Rio de Janeiro.
After all my trips, around noon one day, I was working on a drill rig in a yard and fell off. They found me unconscious. Someone called 911, and they took me to Royal Columbian Hospital. For two weeks, I was in a coma. I was told they had to revive me four times about a month and a half. After that, I went to Eagleridge Hospital for rehab. Then, on October 18th, I went to connect to communities in Langley.
In 2012, the court decided to award committees to my separated spouse of 2 years. Her lawyer claimed I was his client. That would be a conflict of interest as the charter of rights says “everyone is equal in a court of law.” A lawyer can’t represent both sides of the situation. The Patients Property Act says I was entitled to counsel and served for court 10 Business days before. If served in Canada, I have 21 days to respond. I was served 4 hours less than 9 days before court. Both of those were wrong. The judge shouldn’t have heard the case as I was Brain injured. My future was not a consideration they felt needed to be dealt with. There were a false affidavit and missing evidence that would contradict it.
Now, I like challenges. It gives you purpose. I think it’s important to overcome brain injury goals. I have set and accomplished my driver’s license on my own. I was supposed to have 75,000 steps on November 19th, however; I accomplished that goal by getting 75,771. I would really like to restore my 1930 Ford, however, I have kept from it. Another goal of mine is that I’m just on day 241 of not wearing glasses.
Please share as much information as you feel comfortable about the nature of your injury and how it was caused. And what is your biggest thought regarding this period of time?
I’m fortunate the event happened in Surrey, not Peru. As I mentioned before, I was working in a yard on a drill rig that I helped manufacture about 10 feet off the ground. I don’t know why, but I fell to the ground. I hit my head on the deck on the way down, causing frontal load injury. Not only that, but I broke my left ankle. I must have been knocked out from a frontal blow or fainted from the broken ankle as a natural impulse. Instead, I landed on my back. It wasn’t the fall but the sudden stop caused my brain to be ripped from my skull and it was floating in blood in my mind, according to my doctor. They did a magnetic resonance imaging scan (MRI) to see if it was floating in blood or not.
Are you living with your family or alone? If you are living alone, what do you see as the biggest challenge of living alone?
I have lived alone since December 1st, 2016. I have two indoor cats. However, I have no problem letting them out with a raccoon on the deck. They’re friends, actually.
What are some of the routines which help you to cope with your symptoms?
Walking around helps a lot. I do a lot of research for legal matters and for my health. On Amazon, I found glasses and I believe cured my eyesight. I use DMSO (Dimethyl and Sulfoxide) and it has a lot of benefits, especially for brain injury.
Do you ever find external pressure from society? Impact on social life.
Well, only the fact that the government department can’t and won’t intervene what I’ve been going through for years. The RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) closed a “case missing trailer.” The committees removed contrary to the court order that I had no counsel. The order says they are not allowed to dispose of assets without an “okay” of PGT or court order. This all took place while PGT was to monitor and I wasn’t allowed information to object. The RCMP dropped the complaint. However, people, in general, are great.
What do you think changes the most after your injury, and how have you been coping with it?
The attitude. When you have a brain injury, they doubt you and treat you with kid gloves. You become incapable in their eyes. As for my current situation, I wasn’t supported from the beginning. People with a brain injury have little or no idea what is taking place.
My example may shed some light since my wife separated and moved out two years before my accident. She had no intentions of coming back. Until I was incapable of knowing what was taking place. She moved into the house and handled my pensions until my social worker insisted on the Patient’s Property Act. At that time, she had a social worker, and they removed WorkSafe British Columbia. They also paid a lawyer to proceed with the committees.
Patients Property Act, WorkSafe British Columbia, and her lawyer all knew we were separated 2 years prior to my injury. Her lawyer referred to me as his client while taking away my rights as a person under the Patient’s Property Act. Which entitled me to have counsel. However, I didn’t, and that violates the Chapter Of Rights. The highest law in Canada, the PPA says the patients’ property is not the committees thus they are not allowed to use or benefit from their position that is under the duties of the committee. PATIENTS PROPERTY ACT RSBC 1996 CHAPTER 349.
I had a social worker who paid my disability pension, all the taxes, and maintenance from a restricted account they no one has access. However, the committees asked for a fraudulent amount from the restricted account and it was okay by PGT (Public Guardian and Trustee of British Columbia). They spent the disability pension. That was my asset contrary to the Patients Property Act.
I was lucky. I recovered and could research all the information about those less fortunate. The PGT mandate is to protect the incapable, and they did not. I feel a test case will come of this whole thing. It hopefully might save others from the same unjust treatment.
My life had meaning and justification before my accident. At that time, I was 1 out of 4 qualified to work on a piece of equipment that was distributed in several countries. I was also the only one traveling to their locations. In short, my accident changed my life from being needed to being a non-person. That’s exactly what I’ve been fighting for roughly six years. All because of the greed of committees that shouldn’t have been put in that position from the start.
The people that didn’t follow proper procedure have kept my recovery from giving me life. All because they wrote me off, and I was going to die at the group home. The lawyers are ignoring the Patient’s Property Act and court orders. They have had the court order and the accounts in their possession. Someone has to be made accountable or what chance do any of us brain injury adults and children have to ever regain a life. I am trying, but it’s costing me a family and a lot of money in lawyers.
I just think that PGT needs to look deeper than affidavits. They were false, and they had bank statements that contradicted them. I’m only one case. How many more adults and children are not being treated just and fairly?
What is the first thing you want to do after the pandemic?
I want to go to Peru after the pandemic.
If you see yourself from ten years where do you see yourself from the last ten years and the first ten years?
In the last 10 years, I started walking more. In early 2015, I climbed a wall that was 48 stories.
In 2016, I volunteered for Girls Fly 2. That was great, but a lot of work. It was a bit tiring since I was loading women and children into and out of helicopters while the blades were turning. Then, I prepared information for the lawyer that got me rescinded.
Days after that, my wife filed for divorce as the cash cow was gone. That has been ongoing for 4 ½ years.
Now you ask about the future. I want to end this fight. I have evidence, so if we can’t compromise; I am going to see a tort lawyer. I am told that would cost $150,000, but I’m not going down without a fight. When that’s all over, I’ll get a job and volunteer around the world.
Do you have any hobbies that you enjoy or anything that you’re interested in?
I love animals, walking, and hiking. I’m a scuba diver, but as pressure does things to you, I think that one is out. I have a 1930 Ford. I also have a boat that is destroyed by lack of care. I think I can fix a Quad and a motorcycle, but all that will depend on litigation, other than travel.
I feel we can come back from brain injury. It takes time, determination, and support. Working together and not afraid to try different and new ideas is very important as well. As I said before, I believe in challenges. It brings out a good side in people. Exercise can be good as well. For me, it’s a key component. The support I received was the start of my recovery. Thanks to people like yourself and letting others read of successfully recovered TBI. Hopefully, we’ll encourage hope and success.
Interviewed and transcribed by Brianna Paulino