ALS Awareness

Raising awareness of ALS is a key mandate for ALS Canada and the Provincial Societies. This month is dedicated to educating the public on the disease and the cause. It is also a great opportunity to meet the ALS Community through the national WALK for ALS, which takes place in 90 communities across Canada. 

In 2015, ALS Awareness Month was acknowledged in the House of Commons.

Mr. David Tilson (Dufferin—Caledon, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, June is ALS awareness month. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a rapidly progressive, fatal motor neuron disease that leaves those affected in a state of progressive paralysis.

As we approach the one-year anniversary of the ALS bucket challenge, I am proud of the more than 260,000 Canadians who donated a combined $17 million for ALS. However, the fight is not over yet. Still today, roughly 3,000 Canadians are suffering from this disease, 80% of whom will die within five years of diagnosis.

In 2005, my father succumbed to ALS, so it has affected me personally. Each year at this time, friends, family, and supporters of those suffering from ALS dedicate their time and energy to this devastating disease to raise awareness and funds for a cure.

I encourage each member to wear a cornflower today to demonstrate our support in the fight against ALS so that together we can support families and find a cure.

Mr. Rodger Cuzner (Cape Breton—Canso, Lib.)  
Mr. Speaker, I too would like to add my voice to ALS Awareness Month.

ALS is a disease where the living wire that connects one's brain to one's muscles degenerates, leaving Canadians affected with this disease in a state of progressive paralysis, which will eventually impact their ability to breathe. The outcome, of course, is death. As of today, there is no treatment.

All members in the House have family, friends, or acquaintances who have been impacted. In September 2009, my former chief of staff in the Liberal whip's office, Richard Wackid, lost his battle with the disease. The incredibly talented and respected young man was struck down in the prime of his life.

Many of us would have met Brian Parsons, a former political staffer, who today not only fights his own personal battle with ALS but continues to be a champion for the cause.

Last year, 260,000 Canadians participated in the ice bucket challenge, donating $17 million for ALS. The money went toward research and equipment support services to maintain a patient's quality of life.

We must continue this momentum in the fight to find a treatment. I ask all members to join me in support by wearing a cornflower today and donating to this important cause.

Mr. Dany Morin (Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, NDP)  

Mr. Speaker, June is Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Month. Sadly, this disease, known as ALS, kills two to three Canadians every day.

It is therefore very important for Canadian society to do everything it can to raise funds and find a cure for this disease that takes the lives of too many mothers and fathers. Currently, over 3,000 Canadians are living with ALS, a disease that remains incurable.

I was proud to see many Canadians, including the NDP leader, participate in the Ice Bucket Challenge, which aimed to raise Canadians' awareness and raise money for a cure. It was a huge success, and ALS Canada announced that the challenge had helped raise $26 million.

I hope that this year's campaign will be just as successful with the Walk for ALS. On behalf of all of my NDP colleagues, I would like to thank those who signed up for the Walk for ALS, and I sincerely hope that a cure will be found soon.

The ALS Cornflower: A Symbol of Hope

The Cornflower (Centaurea cyanis) is a native annual/ biennial plant from Mediterranean Europe. Representing positive hope for the future, the Cornflower is a humble reminder of nature's simple beauty and the fullness of life's cycle. The Blue Cornflower is to ALS what the Daffodil is to Cancer....they are the Flower of Hope for both diseases. The Blue Cornflower is the international flower of hope for ALS/ MND.

The Blue Cornflower plant is a very courageous plant, being able to stand up all the elements of nature (something many other plants cannot do) and the flower, with its star-like blossoms of brilliant blue, is one of our most striking wild-flowers. When you relate this to people with this disease, you can see that they have to also show courage, something that is not always easy, and strength of character to cope with the devastating changes that occur to the muscles in their bodies.

The Blue Cornflower was chosen to symbolize ALS, as it hardy despite its fragile appearance. It is also long lasting, and grows in most locations in Canada. As the Blue Cornflower is planted, awareness of ALS grows along with it across the country.

The Latin name, Cyanus, was given the Cornflower as it was the goddess Flora's (Cyanus) favourite. The name of the genus is derived from the Centaur, Chiron, who taught mankind the healing virtue of herbs.

In the wild condition, it is fairly common in cultivated fields and by roadsides. The stems are 1 to 3 feet high, tough and wiry, slender, furrowed and branched, somewhat angular and covered with a loose cottony down. The leaves, very narrow and long, are arranged alternately on the somewhat dull and gray appearance. The lower leaves are much broader and often have a roughly-toothed outline. The flowers grow solitary, and of necessity upon long stalks to raise them among the corn. The bracts enclosing the hard head of the flower are numerous, with tightly overlapping scales, each bordered by a fringe of brown teeth. The inner disk florets are small and numerous, of a pale purplish rose colour. The bright blue ray florets, that form the conspicuous part of the flower, are large, widely spread, and much cut into.

The flowers are used in modern herbal medicine, as they are considered to have tonic, stimulating properties, with action similar to that of Blessed Thistle. A water distilled from Cornflower petals was formerly in repute as a remedy for weak eyes. The famous French eyewash, 'Eau de Casselunettes', used to be made from them. The powder of the dried leaves has been used to treat those that are bruised by a fall of have broken a vein inwardly. The seeds or leaves taken in wine is are good for treating infectious diseases, and are very good in pestilential fevers. The expressed juice of the petals makes a good blue ink; if expressed and mixed with alum-water, it may be used for water-colour painting. It dyes linen a beautiful blue, but the colour is not permanent. The dried petals are used by perfumeries for giving colour to pot-pourri.