I didn’t know what to expect when I went to meet Stan Cameron, Caledon’s long-time public school board Trustee, at the bustling Tim Horton’s in downtown Bolton for our interview. What I got was an interview with a man who brings an unparalleled level of compassion and personal connection to his work. Based on his interactions with other restaurant patrons one thing is exceptionally clear, people love Stan, and Stan loves people.
The path that Stan took to get where he is today started in the inner City of Toronto. Then for a time he worked in Brampton with people with addiction issues and mental illness. He moved to the Caledon area 45 years ago finally settling in Palgrave after meeting his wife with whom he had 2 children.
Stan began teaching social psychology at Centennial College in Scarborough and for the last 36 years has been making the trek down to the Campus from his home in Caledon. For a time, he was also a minor-league hockey coach in the region. He ran a successful campaign for public school board Trustee for the Region of Peel in 2010 and is now nearing the end of his second term in office.
As a long-time resident of Caledon Stan has nothing but praise for the area and its people.
“I have not heard of many people who would take the position that now that they are here no one else should be here” says Stan about the residents of Caledon, as a proud grin forms on his face. “People are grateful for the opportunity to live here and they enjoy life relative to being able to live here.”
It is clear that Stan certainly feels like he should give back to the community that welcomed him so warmly and his work in the school board over the last 8 years clearly reflects his empathic and community driven approach to politics. Stan credits this approach to having worked with troubled people in the past as well as working with students themselves at his teaching job.
“I think that working with people who are disenfranchised really puts you into one of two categories” says Stan. “You have either a hardened approach to those people or you have an empathic approach to those people.”
He continues “I think that has helped in my position as a school board Trustee. I believe that whole approach that you and I have no idea what idea what another human being is going through unless they share it with us somehow applies. Now when I listen to students, to their parents and grandparents and to their teachers and teaching assistants it’s all there. I just need to listen and then do what I can to help people.”
When I ask what his proudest accomplish is during his time in office Stan’s eye light up and he answers with no hesitation. “The company that ran the school bus consortium in Peel had recommended removing a bus for children on Caledon East on Airport Rd. which had been deemed by the community to be unsafe” says Stan. “The community was feeling very raw about that”. Stan tells me about the group that the concerned parents had formed and how they brought their concerns to the school board. “I talked to all of my Trustee colleagues to say this is a really serious concern in my community and I need your support”.
Eventually the motion was passed and the bus route was continued. As he told me the story I could see how much Stan genuinely cares about the needs of the students in his community as much as about education.
As we wrapped up our interview I felt a sense of pride for the community I myself grew up in. In talking to Stan, I could see that Caledon is a community that takes great pride in doing what it can for its residents. Stan represents the best our community has to offer and as I continue my education away from Caledon I hope that my drive stays as fierce and as passionate as Stan’s has as he continues to find ways to help the area he calls home.