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Black Diamond rocker helping the deaf

Store owner Tarek Nemr has learned American sign language, volunteering with Deaf and Hear Alberta.
Tarek Nemr BWC 6380 web
Tarek Nemr owner of Bluerock Gallery with an artisan-made rocking chair on Nov. 14. The chair is being raffled off, with proceeds from the ticket sales going to Deaf and Hear Alberta.(Brent Calver/Western Wheel)

A rocker in Black Diamond is helping the hearing impaired.

Bluerock Gallery is holding a raffle where for every $100 a customer spends, a ticket is awarded for the chance to win a $4,400 hand-carved rocking chair.

Proceeds from the rocking chair raffle will go towards Deaf and Hear Alberta.

“I, as a gallery owner, have been learning sign language to communicate with the deaf community,” said Tarek Nemr. “I don’t really meet a lot of deaf people in my shop and I think a reason for that is because we can’t communicate with them properly.”

He said after doing some research he was surprised at how large the deaf community is in Alberta.

He also experienced how difficult it was to communicate with a potential customer who was deaf.

“I have had one or two deaf people in my gallery and the fact that I wasn’t able to communicate with them didn’t sit well with me,” said Nemr, who lives in Turner Valley.

He has since done something about it by taking courses in American sign language.

“I recently had a couple come in here and I asked them to let me know if they had any questions,” Nemr said. “They signed to me that they are deaf.

“So I replied to them in sign language ‘Let me know if you have any questions.’

“And they were thrilled. They signed back to me ‘Hooray’

“And we had a long signing chat that went on for about a ½ hour. They were thrilled.”

Nemr has done more than learn how to sign.

“I started volunteering at Deaf and Hear Alberta, we teach deaf seniors how to use technology,” Nemr said. “After the pandemic especially, deaf people got hit hard because they are dependent on reading lips.

“When we put the masks on, their world got muted after the pandemic.”

He said volunteers will be assisting seniors on how to use iPads, phones and others.

It’s all part of Nemr giving back to the community that made him feel at home some three years ago.

“When we opened (after the pandemic) the support from the community has been very good,” Nemr said.

The rocking chair was made by Dallas Gara of GaraWood in Calgary.

It is made of walnut and won first place in the Furniture and Home Decor category in the Made in Alberta Awards in 2019.

The winner of the chair will be announced Jan. 1.




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Bruce Campbell

About the Author: Bruce Campbell

Bruce Campbell is the editor for Okotokstoday.ca and the Western Wheel newspaper. He is a graduate of Mount Royal College journalism program, 1991. For story tips contact bcampbell@okotoks.greatwest.ca
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