Former Meaford municipal councillor Jaden Calvert is facing a bittersweet moment in his life as he prepares to leave Meaford to pursue studies in medicine in Melbourne, Australia. Bittersweet in the sense that the past few years in Meaford have afforded him a chance to heal from an illness, to refocus, and to find renewed resolve to work toward healthy personal and community environments.
In 2013 at the age of 24, Jaden graduated from the Guelph University with an Honours Degree in Biological Sciences. He studied Sustainable Urban and Rural Environment Management and Agriculture at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, then came home to Meaford. It was always his intention to go on to study medicine.
Serendipitously, it is Jaden’s struggle to overcome his illness that both led him home to Meaford and to a new appreciation of personal struggle, be it due to disabilities, economics, or social situations. “When I was sick, I lost my motivation, my vitality, my sense of self, and my vitality but I found support here in Meaford.”
Through his illness, Jaden became aware of the challenges that people with disabilities face. “When we have deep experiences like mine, … well, I became really supportive of people in the community who are vulnerable,” he said. “My illness shaped my lens.
“Everyone should have the means and the opportunity to thrive.”
Jaden was elected to council in 2014 when he was 25 years old, the youngest councillor in the history of Meaford municipal government.
In all of his pursuits, he devoted himself to three causes - one, the empowerment of youth; second, the quality of life for people with disabilities; and thirdly, good stewardship of the environment. He served on a Grey Sauble Conservation Authority committee; the Georgian Bay Youth Roots; Transition Meaford; as president of the Meaford Farmers' Market; as co-ordinator of Golden Town Outreach and its many programs including the foodbank, community cafe, Christmas hamper drive, Second Harvest, community gardens, a backpack program, the Youth Services program, and emergency food and shelter programs; the Grey Bruce Sustainability Network; the Food Security Action Group; the Community Living Program; Beautiful Joe Heritage Society; a Georgian Trail committee; and as a founding member of the Barn Co-op.
Julie Brown has been hired to replace Jaden as coordinator of the Golden Town Outreach. A second replacement will be hired in the near future to take over the Golden Town Outreach community gardens and the Second Harvest program.