The gathering was a bit sparse, but the temperature was a near-perfect 22 degrees and the sky a deep blue, as Mayor Brian Bowman approached the podium to participate in raising the Multiple Sclerosis flag over city hall for its fifth consecutive year to mark Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month in Canada. He was accompanied by representatives of the MS Society and MS sufferers.
And there was reason to call attention to this mysterious, wilful and fearsome disease, which continues to elude human efforts to tame it. As the society’s ambassador would tell the assembled group, Canada has the highest rate of MS in the world, and this province has one of the highest concentrations of MS in the country. Some 3,500 Manitobans are known to be affected.
MS, the mayor testified, is “a chronic, often disabling neurological disease. There is no known cause, or cure. It is unpredictable and costly, directly and indirectly impacting the lives of thousands of Canadians and their families.” Besides providing more than $80 million for research over the past half-century, he told the assembled group, the MS Society provides a wide range of programs, services and social action for people living with the disease.
The MS Society describes the disease’s symptoms as affecting vision, hearing, memory, balance and mobility, but says researchers are daily learning more about MS and zeroing in on ways to prevent it.