#WeNeedUnison: John Cody Testimonial

At Unison Benevolent Fund we take pride in treating everyone who benefits from our programs and services with confidentiality and discretion. When you reach out to Unison your identity and the details of your assistance needs and aid are always kept private.

That is why it is such a great honour when someone decides to come forward, to put a face to Unison’s assistance and to show how valuable and life-saving that assistance can be.

This is John Cody. He is a Montréal-based recording artist, a musician—and until 2016, before the partial removal of his larynx—a singer.

He wanted to tell you his story to give you an indication of how vital your financial support is to Unison.

Here, in John Cody’s own words, is his Unison experience:

“I got pretty sick. I got really ill, the major stuff being colon cancer, severe auto-immune disease and throat cancer, which is the worse one for me because I won’t be able to sing anymore.

 

“I’ve been on disability for almost two years. It’s a very small amount of money. And once I pay my rent, there’s less than $200 a month to live on.

 

“Songwriters, in the entertainment business, are the only writers that don’t have a union to provide benefits. We don’t have pensions and we don’t have anything to take care of us when we’re sick.

 

“And with the musician’s union, there’s nothing either. All you get, frankly, is a couple thousand bucks when you die, for your burial, cremation, whatever. So organizations like Unison are crucial to a lot of artists who just don’t make enough money to support themselves when they can’t work – never mind how hard it is to get paid when you are working and are healthy.

 

“I’ve known about Unison for quite a while, because they’ve been building slowly and now they’re finally in a position to release funds to people who need it. They paid my rent for one month and then they provided me with, on several occasions, pre-paid grocery cards for Metro and Loblaws: $250, sometimes $500, which really takes a load off. I can go to the store and get things that I need, and also put stuff in the freezer. So there’s always food now.

 

“They provide counsel and therapy, and I have taken advantage of that as well. I have a psychiatrist that I talk to once a week via computer. You can imagine that going through this, there are moments when you need to talk to someone.

 

“I don’t own a car. I don’t own a house. I live very simple. But if someone were in greater need in that regard, I’m quite certain they help in that area as well.

 

“I decided to come forward because people need to know it’s there. And I don’t see the shame in telling the truth: I didn’t ask to be sick. I didn’t ask to be in some kind of financial difficulty. And I’m not lazy.

 

“It’s not about that, it’s about being able. And I think that if I come forward—which I don’t think is a big deal, by the way—then it’s going to help other people who are embarrassed or ashamed to be in trouble.

 

“Because everybody wants to take care of themselves, I think. And when you’re an artist, I think real artists do what they do because they want to help people. Music helps people. It makes them feel better. It makes them live and want to live. So maybe if I talk about it, someone who is in dire need will maybe seek assistance.

 

John Cody poses with Unison Executive Director, Sheila Hamilton, at UnisonJam2 in June 2016.

“This is a unit of people, all from different vantage points – publicity, press, engineering. There’s a lot of people behind the scenes that no one ever hears or knows about. And they’re just as dedicated.

 

“In the last several weeks, I’ve seen people come together from every aspect – journalists, publishers, photographers, videographers – all coming together to help me with my album project. And if any of them are in trouble, they deserve as much help as I do.

 

“I’m very grateful for Unison and very grateful for Sheila Hamilton who does an awful lot of work.

 

“I’m grateful that people in the Canadian music industry have realized the plight of its progeny.”

The Unison Benevolent Fund provides critical help to those in the Canadian music industry at their greatest time of need. Contributions to Unison help to pay for medical expenses, housing, food and other vital wellness services such as counselling, drug addiction support, and legal advice.

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