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From Victoria to.... Victoria!

Peter TrophyVictoria, BC seems to be a drawcard for many people, not only from within Canada but other parts of the world as well. Like many Australians that now call Victoria, BC home, it was a long journey to get here but not as long as the journey my speech has taken me on and continues to do so.

I’m originally from another Victoria – Victoria, Australia. Reflecting back, my speech, for better or worse has impacted my life. That said, I know that I have been extremely fortunate on my journey regardless of my speech. I served in the military. I worked at Ayer’s Rock (now Uluru) in Central Australia where one of my tasks was to give a nightly slide show and presentation to the many tourists visiting the “Rock”. I have had many jobs where I dealt with the public face to face, as well as manning the emergency phone line for the West Australian Water Board, where I could expect to take hundreds of phone calls if a water main broke. The main part of my working life was in Records and Information Management within the global Oil and Gas industry, where I worked and lived in China, Russia, South Korea, USA, Qatar and here in Canada.

My speech has not restricted me from amazing employment opportunities and travel but it has certainly not been easy. Naturally, there were many challenges to face as part of these opportunities, with my speech always my biggest challenge and my constant companion. I know that there were many other opportunities I missed out on because of my speech.

I continue to fight with myself to accept my speech.I have had ‘good’, ‘okay’ and ‘bad’ periods with stuttering. In later years it seems that these bad periods have been more frequent. I continue to fight with myself as I struggle to accept my speech. The phone is a long way from being stress free, let alone the modern terrifying trend of telephone interviews. The journey is a lonely one at times, with the associated thought that “I am not normal” and all the feelings that go along with that. What I have found personally that has helped, is to connect with others through organizations such as the Speak Easy Association in Australia and the National Stuttering Association in the USA, where I have met some amazing people and heard amazing stories. At the same time, I also had the opportunity outside of my family, to be in a mutual environment where my speech did not matter, I was not judged and I was supported. Since being in Canada, I have not found this environment until now.

Last month, I met up with Christina and Julia, the co-producers of this newsletter and who coincidently also call Victoria, BC home. This was the first opportunity in many years to personally engage with others who are also on their own unique, but often similar journey. We quickly lost track of time, as we talked and shared and I think that almost three hours passed before we realized the time. It was a great and special opportunity. I believe that we need the opportunity in our communities, where we can meet up, even for just a coffee, in a mutual and supportive environment. I hope that we can expand this opportunity not only here in Victoria and others can also, in their communities across Canada. We are truly not alone!

This is Peter Brophy's first article for the CSA website.