Euclid J. Herie
Euclid Herie was born in 1939 south of Winnipeg, one of three children of a poor French Canadian farming family. Congenital cataracts resulted in serious vision loss as a teenager, resulting in total blindness by age 40. He earned two undergraduate degrees, a masters in social work in 1965 and honorary Dr. of Laws in 1981, all from the University of Manitoba. He is the father of two children and three grandchildren. Euclid lives in Toronto with Barbara Marjeram, where he occasionally enjoys horseback trekking, white water adventures and sailing.
In 1963 he began a career in child welfare at the Children’s Aid Society of Winnipeg. Then he was the Executive Director of the Manitoba Division of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) and later of the Ontario Division from 1977 until 1983.
As President and CEO of CNIB from 1984 until his retirement in 2001, his masterful hand at the helm guided the organization through some difficult changes and growth spurts which included the establishment of regional offices, the implementation of new service models, the closure of residential and workshop programs, and the creation of technology, employment, youth and leadership development programs. He led CNIB in a multimillion dollar campaign to digitize the library, one of the largest libraries for the blind funded through private donations.
From 1988 until 2004, Euclid served successively as treasurer, president and past president of the World Blind Union which represents 180 million blind persons in 150 countries. In this capacity he was deeply involved with international agencies stimulating programs in many developing countries particularly in braille literacy, accessible and affordable technology, maintaining universal postage rights, improving the status of blind women, and the restoration of the Louis Braille birthplace. Over the course of his WBU presidency Herie, usually accompanied by executive assistant Marjeram, visited more than 60 countries, delivering speeches, promoting causes and advocating for the rights of blind persons throughout the world.
During his retirement in 2002 he exemplified his strong advocacy for Braille by establishing the World Braille Foundation to help implement Braille literacy programs. In the first six years 40 literacy projects in 18 countries have been implemented to support the training of blind children and adults. From 2003 to 2007 he served as a director of HumanWare, a company which manufactures and distributes technical aids for blind and visually impaired persons.
His publications include Journey to Independence–Blindness, the Canadian Story, a history of blindness in Canada, and a chapter in Changing What It Means to be Blind: Reflections on the first 25 years of the World Blind Union.
Dr. Herie has received many honors for his exemplary leadership on behalf of the blind worldwide and was elected in 2000 as an honorary life member of the WBU. In 2001 he was appointed president emeritus of CNIB, an unprecedented recognition. He received AER’s Ambrose M. Shotwell Award in 2002 for "outstanding contributions to the personal adjustment or rehabilitation of adults who are blind or visually impaired." He is also the recipient of the Queen’s 50th Anniversary Commemorative Medal and the Canadian Government’s prestigious Member of the Order of Canada. His most recent award is the World Blind Union Louis Braille Medal in 2009.
He has been described as "dynamic and fearlessly optimistic" and is valued for his "warmth of personality and ability to touch the lives of disempowered people."