Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Welcomes Haben Girma to Ottawa

Deaf-Blind Harvard Law Grad Haben Girma - Deaf-Blind Awareness
Haben Girma is an Eritrean American woman, a disability rights advocate, and the first deaf-blind graduate of Harvard Law School. (Photo:


The Eritrean Youth Initiative (EYI) invited me to Ottawa to keynote their inaugural fundraiser dinner. The sold-out event on June 24th raised scholarships for high school students heading to college.

My friend Negash Haile and his colleagues at EYI brought together Canadians from diverse backgrounds to recognize students making a difference.

>>> ALSO READ : Haben Girma, the First Deaf-Blind Harvard Law School Graduate

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was out of town this weekend, so he very generously wrote me a letter. In braille! Mr. Trudeau’s message below is the first braille letter written by a sitting Prime Minister. Because he used transparent braille paper over a print page, both sighted and blind individuals can read the letter. This is what inclusion looks like. Providing information in multiple formats, such as braille and print, allows access for disabled and non-disabled individuals.

What an incredible honor to receive this gift. A thousand thank-yous, Mr. Trudeau!

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Letter

June 12, 2017

Dear Ms. Girma,

I am writing to express my warmest welcome to Ottawa, as you visit us during Deaf-Blind Awareness Month.

I wish to take this opportunity, as well, to recognize you for your lifelong advocacy for people with disabilities, especially for the deaf-blind community. As a teacher and Prime Minister, I am particularly grateful for your work to ensure that students with disabilities have access to the tools they need to thrive at school and beyond. When our society is inclusive, we are all better off.

Once again, please accept my warmest welcome to Ottawa. I sincerely hope that you enjoy your time here.

Justin Trudeau

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau letter to Habe Girma