Michael Jacques did a book tour through Nova Scotia in mid-July and sandwiched between multiple stops around the HRM was a July 16 event at Sobeys in Antigonish.
Did Jacques read from his book during the stop? No. Did he inspire people when they saw him, his book and heard his story? Definitely yes.
“It’s an inspirational book; I can’t read and I can’t write but I thought outside of the box and I wrote my book,” Jacques, the 27-year-old Fonthill, Ontario (Niagara Region) man, living with autism and an intellectual disability, said.
“It’s to show anything is possible,” he added proudly, talking to the Casket during the Antigonish visit.
That the book tour featured Sobeys’ stores as the host locations is no coincidence. Jacques has been working at his local Sobeys since 2010.
“Nine years in October,” he said, again his pride and appreciation beaming through.
“It’s a great organization; like a second family. Everyone is very nice and supportive. It’s great to have that experience.”
So how did a man who can’t read or write author the book Can’t Read, Can’t Write, Here’s my Book? By using speech-to-text technology Jacques said.
“By talking to my IPad. It took me five-and-a-half years to do it; it started as a journal,” he said, noting it has been out for about a year and is a self-published work.
Prior to his Nova Scotia tour, Jacques did a number of stops in his home province. He talked about some of the feedback he is receiving, noting he is being inspired by stories from people talking about reading his ‘inspirational’ book.
“A lot of times, people talk about their own experiences and the things they want to accomplish in life; how they thought, maybe, they couldn’t do it,” he said.
“In life, if you want to do something but think maybe I can’t do it, well, you can do it,” he said.
Jacques also noted that people are sharing stories with him about a loved one who has autism or an intellectual disability.
“They say, ‘you give us hope,’” he said. “That’s another great experience.”
While in Antigonish, he noted people were talking to him about the community hosting the Special Olympic 2018 Summer Games, roughly a year ago.
“I was excited about that,” Jacques, a Special Olympic athlete himself in the sports of baseball and basketball, said, of those conversations.
“I was disappointed I wasn’t part of that but, maybe, next time,” he said, displaying the Special Olympian spirit.
As for other activities he participates in, Jacques said he “likes to give back,” and delivers passionate presentations at clubs like Rotary and the Lions as well as schools; from elementary right up to university. He is also a board member with Community Living Ontario.
“Through which he advocates for individuals like himself,” a release to accompany the tour, reads.
“Michael hopes to write many more books and continue to make an impact in the world through his stories.”
Jacques’ book is available at all Sobeys’ stores in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, P.E.I., Newfoundland and Ontario.
“As well as online via Michael’s website (heresmybook.com),” the release noted.
“In true Canadian spirit, for every book purchased, Michael has committed to donating a portion of the proceeds to Special Olympics Canada and Community Living Ontario.”
Niluka Kottegoda, vice-president customer experience at Sobeys, is quoted in the release.
“From the moment I shook hands with Michael, I knew he was someone to learn from,” Kottegoda said.
“His infectious energy touches everyone he meets, and leaves them feeling heard and valued.
“Michael’s story is one of great triumph. He demonstrates the passion, resilience and positivity we should all strive to embody. The entire Sobeys’ team and community consider it an honour and privilege to include Michael in our family and share his inspirational book with customers in our stores.”