Jen Powley, author and advocate for people with disabilities in N.S., dies at age 45

HALIFAX — Jen Powley, an author and prominent Nova Scotia advocate for people with disabilities, has died at the age of 45.

Carrie Ernst, director of Independent Living Nova Scotia, confirmed today that Powley died at the hospital on Sunday evening due to complications from her advanced multiple sclerosis.

Powley collaborated with the non-profit group in a pilot project, using her own apartment as a model to show how people with advanced physical disabilities could live in their homes — with a roommate — with 24-hour care.

In her most recent book, "Making a Home," Powley described how she created the project because she wanted to show how people with severe disabilities did not need to be placed in nursing homes.

Ernst said in an interview that she worked with Powley to create a funding model for the province to set up the unit, and it has helped prompt the province to shift about 200 young people out of care homes into more independent lives.

Farzan Hedayat, who was Powley's assistant, says he never saw her as being in a wheelchair, but rather as being like a "gazelle," a word she had tattooed on her wrist.

He said in an interview that he will remember Powley as a woman who "always pushed beyond the limitations," with wit and searing intelligence.

"The gazelle grew wings and has flown away to her eternal destination," he said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 18, 2023.

The Canadian Press