During Reena’s 2017 Annual General Meeting (A.G.M) we recognized attorney David Cohen with the Morris Baker “Ish Tzaddik” Award to honour a worthy individual who has made an outstanding commitment to the enhancement of life for people with developmental disabilities.
Regrettably, we were recently informed that Mr. Cohen passed away.
The term Tzaddik, righteous one, comes from the source Tzedek, which is often referred to as justice, but it is more accurately reflects the notion of equity. David Cohen was an example of both.
As a senior partner at the Canadian immigration law firm of Campbell Cohen, David was practicing Canadian immigration law for more than 35 years. He was a member of the Quebec and Canadian Bar Associations, as well as the American Immigration Lawyers Association.
Ten years ago, David received a letter from a distraught mother in the U.S., imploring him to help her autistic, 15-year-old Canadian daughter to return to Canada. David enlisted the help of his friend, Charles Conant, an experienced educator, to come up with a plan that will allow the daughter to return to her native land and receive the much-needed supports.
Charles and David, working together since late 2015, were unable to secure any supports for the child since she was not a U.S. Citizen. All doors seemed closed every time they tried to get help for the family.
After contacting Reena, Charles and David became key members of a cross-border team, including local Toronto agency partners that met frequently over the phone, to build a plan with the family. Charles and David were essential, providing important history, connection to family, and information about the daughter’s needs.
In January of 2017, a Reena support team drove to meet the family in the US, picked up the daughter and her father, and made the 18-hour journey to her Reena home.
It was the dedication and commitment made by David and Charles that enabled the young girl to have a new life with countless opportunities, including living successfully in her apartment, attending day programs, and participating in a community like anyone else.
May his soul be bound in the bundle of life and may his memory be forever a blessing.