Born in High River, Alberta, in 1949, Jane Cameron had an exemplary life. She travelled the globe, met dignitaries and stars, filled her room with medals and trophies commemorating her feats, and earned the esteem of countless individuals who praise her art and her grace.
When she was diagnosed with Down syndrome at four months old, Jane’s parents were told their daughter was “retarded” and that they should: “Put her in an institution and forget about her.” They were shocked and, despite knowing little to nothing about Down syndrome they decided that what their child needed was as much love, care and education as they could possibly give her.
When Jane was thirteen her school in Montreal implemented a policy that “these children” needed no academic training apart from such things as street signs and signs for Danger, Men and Women. Unwilling to accept that Jane deserved anything less in life than any other child, the Cameron’s enroled her into the internationally renowned Doctor Franklin Perkins School in Lancaster, Massachusetts.
After ten years at the Perkins school Jane joined the sheltered workshop, “Le Fil d’Ariane” back in Montreal. This workshop or Atelier was quite unique; it is more of an art school than a workshop. Jane quickly demonstrated that she was much more than a stitcher who could follow patterns. Jane soon became the alelier’s chief designer. Many of her designs were turned into huge tapestries that were commissioned by such organizations as the office of the Prime Minister, Mirabel Airport and Reader’s Digest Canada.
Although her artistic talent was not discovered until Jane was about twenty, her tapestries now hang across the world. Jane’s embroidered tapestries are glowing statements of her imagination and her love and affection for all living things. A life that could have been a tragedy became one of joy for Jane’s parents and hope for other parents of children with Down syndrome.
Jane was also an accomplished swimmer with many medals for her success including the two silver ones she won in international competition at the Special Olympics in Brockport, New York. She was featured in the film on the Special Olympics: “It’s in Everyone of Us”, and has appeared on television in Montreal and Calgary.
Perhaps Jane’s greatest accolade is the book written about her and her art by Dr. M. Klager, a professor of art at Heidleberg University.
Jane is an example of the unknown potential hidden in many Down Syndrome children which only needs the opportunity to be discovered and developed.