Louise received Nursing Diploma from the Aberdeen Hospital School of Nursing followed by several nursing, management and communication courses over several years prior to a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 1996.
In 1997 she became involved with the CNIB following sudden vision loss, and served on their Advisory Board, Sydney District for many years.
Further volunteering began in 1998 when Louise became a member of the CCB Sydney Chapter of the Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB). She has served on the CCB at all levels including committees advocating for accessibility for blind/vision impaired Canadians. In 2010 she was elected to the position of National President and re-elected in 2014 and 2017.
Other committees Louise served on include: Cape Breton Infrastructure Engagement Group; Accessible Canada Act; Accessible Nova Scotia; Accessible Electronic Payment Committee; Library Committee; Accessible Media Inc.; Media Access Canada (MAC), Coalition of Blind Rights Holders (CBRH) – of Canada; – Consumer Access Group (CAG); WBU – World Blind Union; WBU – Women’s Committee, ILNS – Independent Living Nova Scotia; Society for Accessible Transportation – Sydney; Marine Atlantic Accessibility & Inclusive Advisory Committee; a Working Group to revise the NS Disabilities Act; Best Medicines Coalition (BMC); and sit on all CCB committees. Louise has represented the blind community at the Canadian Medical Association (CMA), Innovative Medicines Canada / Médicaments novateurs Canada, International Federation on Aging (IFA), and CADTH (Canadian Agency on Drugs & Technology in Health. Louise is a Polio survivor and also a member of Polio Nova Scotia.
Louise has met with and made presentations to many other disability groups, organization of seniors, schools – including the Canadian Teachers “Seeing Beyond the Horizon” meeting, Ophthalmologists – individually as well as the Canadian Ophthalmology Society, and meet with many provincial & federal government offices. Most recent were two presentations to the International Ophthalmology Conference in Xingtai, China as well as working with a group on a mobile eye clinic in remote areas of China.
Areas of Expertise (5)
Mel Hibb Hourglass Award for Exceptional Service
Holly Bartlett Advocacy Award
Volunteer of the Year award NSLEO
St. Francis Xavier University: B.Sc., Nursing 1996
University College of Cape Breton: Certificate in Institutional Management, Healthcare 1985
Media Appearances (5)
Cape Breton getting new eye doctor, but more needed, says vision advocate
Louise Gillis of Sydney, who is national president for the Canadian Council of the Blind, said the island had five ophthalmologists at the beginning of 2019, but now only has two and one of them is preparing to leave.
Disability advocates in Nova Scotia say they've been excluded from COVID-19 policies
The Chronicle Herald online
Louise Gillis of Sydney, president of the Canadian Council of the Blind, said no one in related organizations was contacted – to her knowledge – in regards to incorporating challenges into the policies and regulations that people who are blind or with vision loss might endure. “We’ve never been contacted,” she said. “Why not?”
'I wanted to rejoin life' says N.S. man who lost eyesight to diabetes
CTV News Atlantic online
Louise Gillis is national president for the Canadian Council of the Blind. She says a story like Bond's can be of benefit to others like him, and to employers. "They will say, 'there's hope for me out there yet,' and there is," Gillis said. "They can contact us in different places to find out what is available."
Cape Breton's Louise Gillis receives CNIB's highest honour
Cape Breton Post online
"Louise Gillis exemplifies what it is to be a passionate, dedicated volunteer — in Cape Breton, throughout Nova Scotia, across Canada and internationally," said Mombourquette. “Ms. Gillis sets an exceptional example of how people across the province can give back to their community, and make Nova Scotia a better place to live.”
Budget falls short for disabled workers, advocates say
Louise Gillis, national president of the Canadian Council of the Blind, said the need to improve federal workplaces is even more pressing for people with vision loss. "The blind community has the highest unemployment rate of all disabilities," Gillis said. "To get jobs for persons with vision loss, technology needs to be upgraded greatly."