WHITE BEAR FIRST NATIONS - Now 29 years old, Connor StandingReady was home for the holidays and the Observer had the opportunity to catch up with him. To say he has had a most difficult life is an understatement.
He was born in Regina and is the youngest son of Almer and Darlene StandingReady. He was born with congenital cataracts in both eyes and his first of many eye surgeries was at the tender age of six weeks. Eye glasses alleviated the problems somewhat during childhood but when he turned 13, his quality of vision rapidly deteriorated.
StandingReady attended elementary school at White Bear and then attended Gordon F. Kells High School in Carlyle for Grades 8 and 9. While there, it was determined that he needed major eye surgery and a costly trip for a complex procedure in Indianapolis was arranged. Carlyle’s high school organized a fantastic student wide garage sale fundraiser to assist with the costs and nearly $20,000 was raised.
At first, the operation seemed successful, but a few days later, his retina detached, which was a risk that he knew about. Since that time, he has permanently lost vision in his left eye. The retina in that eye constantly flashes and StandingReady compares it to a “fireworks kaleidoscope.” His right eye also has issues and StandingReady can only see vague shapes and shadows. He is unable to operate a vehicle.
Despite this major disability, StandingReady has succeeded in life and has a great attitude. He returned to school at White Bear for Grades 10-12 and was class valedictorian. Upon graduating, George Anderson of the Carlyle and District Lions Club met with his father Almer for possible assistance in acquiring a guide dog. Through the Lions Dog Guides of Canada, StandingReady was provided with a female golden Labrador retriever named Dolly.
Dolly accompanied StandingReady to Brandon University for one year in 2011. In 2012, with Dolly, he transferred to the University of Regina and for five years studied at the First Nations University. His major was political science and he also minored in English and Indigenous studies. Upon graduating with a bachelor of arts with distinction in 2016, he was also honoured with being that year’s valedictorian.
StandingReady was employed for a year at the Gathering Place in Regina and then was honoured to be accepted into the College of Law at the University of Saskatoon. StandingReady graduated with a Juris Doctor in the spring of 2021. To complement his studies, he is presently articling at Community Legal Services for Saskatoon Inner City Inc.
He expects to be admitted to the bar in the fall of 2022.
To complete his daily work, StandingReady uses the program Job Access with Speech (JAWS). It is a computer screen reader program that allows blind and visually impaired users to read their screen either with a text-to-speech output or by a refreshable Braille display.
Despite his disability, StandingReady has a very upbeat personality and during the interview exuded an air of confidence. In regards to his personal life, Dolly was retired by the dog guides and is believed to be living on an acreage near Prince Albert. StandingReady has one sister, three brothers, and a 10-year-old daughter Natallia from a previous relationship.
He lives in Saskatoon with his father Almer. His mom Darlene has recovered well from a stroke which occurred in 2018 and now resides at the Moose Mountain Lodge in Carlyle.
Like his entire family, StandingReady is a very positive individual and feels that his disability should not define him. He is extremely proud of his accomplishments and wished to thank the communities of White Bear and Carlyle, his family, and large circle of friends for the tremendous outpouring of support over the years.
He concluded by saying, “I’ve come this far, let’s see what the rest of my life has in store for me.”