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Jewel Kats Passes Away Leaving Proud Legacy For People With Disabilities

Anokhi DIY Anokhi Today Breaking News & Sports World Jan 12, 2016


Celebrated Toronto-based children's book author, comic strip writer, disabilities advocate, inspirational public speaker and ANOKHI awardee Jewel Kats passes away.

On January 7, children's book author Jewel Kats (Michelle Meera Katyal) died in Toronto with her family by her side as stated in an obituary published in The Toronto Star on January 10. The cause of her death has not been reported.

Kats will be remembered for her dedicatation to creating awareness for people with disabilities, especially children.

The obituary beautifully captured her essence: "She was and continues to be an inspiration for all children with disabilities through her countless published children's books. Although gone too soon, she continues to inspire all beings with her incredible literature. She was full of life, laughter and fun. She touched everyone's heart one way or another. She will forever be remembered. May she rest in peace."

She was and continues to be an inspiration for all children with disabilities through her countless published children's books. Although gone too soon, she continues to inspire all beings with her incredible literature. She was full of life, laughter and fun. She touched everyone's heart one way or another. She will forever be remembered. May she rest in peace. – See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/thestar/obituary.aspx?n=jewel-kats&pid=177229636#sthash.DPXQy3yE.dpuf
She was and continues to be an inspiration for all children with disabilities through her countless published children's books. Although gone too soon, she continues to inspire all beings with her incredible literature. She was full of life, laughter and fun. She touched everyone's heart one way or another. She will forever be remembered. May she rest in peace. – See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/thestar/obituary.aspx?n=jewel-kats&pid=177229636#sthash.DPXQy3yE.dpuf
She was and continues to be an inspiration for all children with disabilities through her countless published children's books. Although gone too soon, she continues to inspire all beings with her incredible literature. She was full of life, laughter and fun. She touched everyone's heart one way or another. She will forever be remembered. May she rest in peace. – See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/thestar/obituary.aspx?n=jewel-kats&pid=177229636#sthash.DPXQy3yE.dpuf
She was and continues to be an inspiration for all children with disabilities through her countless published children's books. Although gone too soon, she continues to inspire all beings with her incredible literature. She was full of life, laughter and fun. She touched everyone's heart one way or another. She will forever be remembered. May she rest in peace. – See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/thestar/obituary.aspx?n=jewel-kats&pid=177229636#sthash.DPXQy3yE.dpuf
She was and continues to be an inspiration for all children with disabilities through her countless published children's books. Although gone too soon, she continues to inspire all beings with her incredible literature. She was full of life, laughter and fun. She touched everyone's heart one way or another. She will forever be remembered. May she rest in peace. – See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/thestar/obituary.aspx?n=jewel-kats&pid=177229636#sthash.DPXQy3yE.dpuf
She was and continues to be an inspiration for all children with disabilities through her countless published children's books. Although gone too soon, she continues to inspire all beings with her incredible literature. She was full of life, laughter and fun. She touched everyone's heart one way or another. She will forever be remembered. May she rest in peace. – See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/thestar/obituary.aspx?n=jewel-kats&pid=177229636#sthash.DPXQy3yE.dpuf

It was during a car accident with her family, at nine years of age, when Kats suffered injuries to her legs, resulting in limited use and functionality. But an injury that could have been tragic, turned out to be one that inspired Kats' zest for life, as her positive attitude, optimistic outlook and bubbly personality won the hearts of everyone who encountered her.


Children's book author, Jewel Kats.
Photo Credit: Kaleidoscope Photography

Despite her disability, Kats had a successful career in publishing. She was the author of 11 children's books known as fairy ability tales where Kats would re-imagine and often re-invent the main protagonists of well loved fairy tales to feature characters with a disability or chronic illness; thus creating an atmosphere of inclusivity where children feel welcome and not excluded. Reena's Bollywood Dream, Cinderella's Magical Wheelchair, The Princess Panda Tea Party, Snow White's Seven Patches and graphic novel Ditzabled Princess are just a few examples of the magic Kats was able to create through her pen, stories truly worth honour and praise.

"Even reading the manuscripts could bring tears to my eyes — the sheer pluck of the hero/heroine and nobility of spirit, starting from a situation where most of us would just give up," Victor Volkman, Kats' publisher, told CBC News. "One of Jewel's core beliefs was that all girls can be a princess. Why not? It doesn't matter what shape you are, what you can or can't do, what colour your skin is, how well you speak, every girl was a princess in her eyes," he said.


Cover Illustrations of Reena's Bollywood Dream, Cinderella's Magical Wheelchair, Ditzabled Princess and Snow White's Seven Patches.
Photo Credit: www.jewelkats.com

ANOKHI MEDIA welcomed Jewel Kats to its 12th Anniversary Award show held at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel in April 2015 where Kats was honoured with an award and included in the 2015 edition of The ANOKHI List honouring South Asians globally for their achievements in their respective fields.


Jewel Kats delivers a powerful speech after accepting her award in this ANOKHI 12 awards show highlights video.
Photo Credit: IsaacImage Toronto Wedding Photography Studio


Jewel Kats poses with her award backstage at ANOKHI 12.
Photo Credit: IsaacImage Toronto Wedding Photography Studio


Jewel Kats poses with The ANOKHI List 2015 Collector's Edition Coffee Table Book backstage at ANOKHI 12.
Photo Credit: IsaacImage Toronto Wedding Photography Studio

Kats was the recipient of the Crusader of People with Disabilities Award, which was presented to her by Global News anchor and media personality Farah Nasser. After receiving her award, Kats proudly declared with her fist in the air . . . "Be yourself, believe in yourself, go after your dreams, don't let anyone or anything stop you, reach for the stars, go for the universe. You can be anybody you want to be, even if that means reaching for the stars differently, you can do it!

Being herself was something Kats was good at, and a quality she is fondly remembered for today as it was extremely inspirational to children, especially those with disabilities. "I could just imagine her pulling up in all her sparkly pink princess diva fashion and some little child, little girl, who may have a disability, seeing her and thinking of all the possibilities that are out there," said Claudia Lenart, a Chicago-based fibre artist and illustrator who worked with Kats. "She really empowered people with disabilities, especially kids," she told CBC News.


Photo Credit: Archie Comics

Kats' inspiration didn't start and end with her books, she was also the inspiration and reason behind the first comic book character with disabilities to appear in Archie Comic books. Her name was Harper Lodge, cousin to the infamously popular Veronica Lodge in the comic franchise's most successful Archie comic book series. But this opportunity to be reflected so eloquently in comic book form was not a privledge bestowed upon Kats, she went and found the opportunity with a chance encounter with Daniel Parent, artist and writer for Archie Comic Publications, as she was determined to create more awareness around people's with disabilities.

In fact, Parent took to his Twitter account to express his condolences over the passing of Kats, describing her as an inspiration and someone not to be forgotten.

In an interview on OPEN CHEST TV, speaking to ANOKHI MEDIA's CEO Raj Girn, Kats revealed how the cards fell into place with the creation of Harper Lodge when she met Parent, much to her shock and amazement…

"I was at Toronto's Fan Expo promoting the book and I found out that Daniel Parent was there . . . so I wheeled up to him and I was like 'Why isn't there a character with a disability . . . how is that possible?' He didn't have an answer for me right away, he was startled. He gave me his contact information, we started communicating, and I started giving him ideas but I never ever, truthfully, thought the character would be based off me. It was inspired by me!"


ANOKHI MEDIA's CEO Raj Girn poses with Jewel Kats after her OPEN CHEST TV interview in April 2015.
Photo Credit: ANOKHI MEDIA

 

Remembering the moment she first met Kats, Girn describes meeting a powerful aura and someone larger than life. “I had the opportunity to meet Jewel when she was nominated and presented with an ANOKHI award last year. My immediate impression of her was that she was a larger than life personality with more zest for life than most people I have ever met. She practically burst into the room with her fuchsia pink wheelchair and rock star-esque clothes, hair/makeup and accessories," Girn said to ANOKHI.

"Upon interviewing her, I realized why she was so exceptional. She had a fight in her that was incomparable to anyone I had yet met, and a warmth and sensitivity that was obtusely electrifying. Jewel was a one of a kind advocate not just for disability but for raising the bar higher than any ceiling man or God made," Girn continued.

Why would Kats be remembered? How strongly would her advocacy continue to work now that she's no longer with us? These are questions many of us may wonder, but for Girn the answer is simple and easy. "Her 11 children’s books strong portfolio and wheelchair-ridden superhero character, will forever remain one of my most inspiring heroes of all time. She accomplished more than most, in-spite of her disability and lifelong pain. She was the underdog hero. She was and will remain my hero. R.I.P. Angel; you finally got your wings."

And with that we pay tribute to a soul lost, but a spirit gained. Rest in peace Jewel. You'll continue to shine on! You'll be missed!

 
Main Image Photo Credit: Kaleidoscope Photography
 

In case you missed it, watch Jewel Kats' interview on OPEN CHEST TV where Raj and Jewel chatted candidly about her extraordinary journey:

 
Daniel Pillai

Daniel Pillai

    Author

    Daniel is the Digital Media Manager for ANOKHI MEDIA and the host for ANOKHI's entertainment channel, PULSE TV. As part of the dream team, Daniel manages all multiple channels under ANOKHI’s portfolio, while also training new on-air talent, and showing budding p...

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