In-Person meetings are BACK!

From the Grand Master …

Brethren,

M.W. Bro. Simpson, Grand Master, wrote in the Proceedings of 1865:

In November last, I received a letter from the Secretary of Beaver Lodge, No. 83, requesting to be informed whether it would be improper to initiate a person into our mysteries who was lame from an injury he had received in the hip, and in May last, I also received a communication from the Past Master of Trent Lodge, No. 38, desiring to know whether he would be justified in reporting favorably of a candidate who had lost his right arm.
In both cases I decided that the candidate could not be received, for, in my opinion, no person should be initiated into the mysteries of Free Masonry who is either maimed, halt, or blind, or who might not, in fact be termed a perfect stone for our Masonic edifice.

Bro. Rudyard Kipling wrote a short story called 'In the Interests of the Brethren' which describes a lodge meeting frequented by WWI soldiers on leave, many with quite debilitating war wounds:

“He used to talk to the men who dropped into his shop when the war began. He told us sleepy old chaps in Lodge that what men wanted more than anything else was Lodges where they could sit - just sit and be happy like we are now. He was right too. We’re learning things in the war. A man’s Lodge means more to him than people imagine.”

In 1918 the Grand Master ruled that a man who had been “physically perfect at initiation” but had subsequently developed stiffness which prevented him from assuming proper position in the ceremonies was allowed to be advanced, although he denied initiation to six others who had various disabilities.
By 1923 attitudes had changed such that M.W. Bro. Ponton gave dispensation to 16 men, most of whom were former servicemen, to be initiated despite their disabilities.
We now have no such restrictions, but surprisingly it was not until 2004 that a requirement for the DDGM to seek special permission from the Grand Master was finally removed from the Constitution.
This past year the Management Committee approved a policy to implement the provisions of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. It reads:

The Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario and its staff and volunteers throughout Ontario are committed to treating all individuals in a way that enables them to maintain their dignity and independence. Masonry stresses the principles of kindness, consideration, courtesy, dependability, and compassion. Our commitment to accessibility extends these principles to include those of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. We are committed to ensuring a safe and welcoming environment for everyone and to providing equal opportunity, access and integration for people with disabilities. We are committed to ensuring compliance with all applicable federal and provincial accessibility laws and to identifying, removing, and preventing barriers to accessibility.

The full text is available through a link on the front page of our website. We have commenced training for Grand Lodge officers and staff, but I would highly recommend all leaders in the Craft avail themselves of this. In fact all Freemasons should consider it.

Online “self-serve” training videos for general AODA content are available for all to access at https://accessforward.ca and training on the Ontario Human Rights Code content as it relates to AODA compliance and awareness about discrimination related to disability is available at http://www.ohrc.on.ca/en/learning/working-togethercode-and-aoda.

David J. Cameron,

Grand Master

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