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The Great Tait

by Chris Wescott / Edmonton Oilers

EDMONTON, AB - For over 30 years, Cam Tait has brought his endearing sense of humour to the Edmonton journalism scene.

Now, Tait brings his infectious personality to the masses in his autobiography, Disabled? Hell No! I’m a Sit-down comic, co-written by his friend, Jim Taylor.

You might have seen Tait at Rexall Place on an Oilers practice day or game day, either in the media room for the pre-game meal or in the coach’s room for press conferences. But the story behind Tait and his life is much more interesting than what he’s doing on any given game day.

Wayne Gretzky and Cam Tait on the cover of "Disabled? HELL NO! I'm a Sit-Down Comic!"

Tait, a long-time local journalist, has cerebral palsy. But, as he shares in his book, he has relished the ups and conquered the downs throughout his life. Tait, quite candidly, discusses his battle with depression but also provides a window into some of the brighter moments of his years, seasoned with his unrelenting sense of humour.

“I wanted to share my story of how so many people — thousands, really — have helped me live out my dreams,” said Tait. “It’s also a thank-you card to so many. I’m especially pleased with how humour waves it through my story. But I went through some very tough times, and went through a deep depression. The depression was very hard to write. I had to write it, though, to show readers I am not perfect and, at times, struggle.”

A wheelchair and speech impediment haven’t derailed a successful career as both a journalist and comedian. In the 90’s, Tait performed at various comedy venues throughout Western Canada. He won Alberta’s Funniest New Comic in 1995, in a contest hosted by Yuk Yuk’s.

Fittingly, Tait held a book launch event at West Edmonton Mall’s The Comic Strip on April 20.

However, comedy is just part of his story.

In 1979, Tait began freelancing with the Edmonton Journal as a sports reporter. He received a nomination from the Canadian Sports Federation for best sports writer of the year, three years later. In 1985, Tait joined the staff full-time. He worked as a news reporter, a columnist and feature writer. He left the Journal in 2012, and now contributes to the Edmonton Sun. Following his Journal departure, it was time for Tait to share his story with the world.

“I hope people who read it realize every dream can be realized,” said Tait. “There’s nothing stopping us from getting there. A dream, a team of people behind and darn hard work can take us anywhere, and everywhere, we want to go. And, if we can laugh with ourselves — not at ourselves — the journey will be that much more rewarding, and entertaining.”

In his autobiography, Tait writes about his family and his close relationship with his grandson, Nic Davis.

“Nicholas: my pride and joy,” said Tait. “We had a very special and tight bond ever since he was a baby. He’s my best buddy. As a person with a disability, I never have to explain myself. He accepts me for who I am. One of my proudest moments, which is how the book starts, is how I helped Nic take his first steps: he used me in my wheelchair as a walker. I never walked myself, and to be able to help my grandson learn to walk was my proudest moment.”

Cam Tait tells jokes during the launch for his book "Disabled? HELL NO! I'm a Sit-Down Comic!" at The Comic Strip in West Edmonton Mall, in Edmonton. Photo by David Bloom/Edmonton Sun

Tait has been on the Oilers scene for years, and his stories in his autobiography reveal the relationships he developed with the people in the organization. So many fond memories with the club, but the ones that stick out are his relationships.

“The friendships. Absolutely,” said Tait. “Yes, there were some the greatest moments in hockey history that came from the Oilers. But to be able to get to know the managers, coaches and staff and call them my friends are my fondest memories. And to be able to share their own families with mine is very meaningful.”

One of those relationships was formed with the legendary Wayne Gretzky, who graces the cover of Tait’s book.

“It was the idea of our publisher, Harbour Publishing, and we took the picture at the ’84 Stanley Cup reunion last October,” said Tait. “I’ve know Wayne since 1979 and we’ve had many laughs, which are in the book. And to have a gentleman of his character on the cover is overwhelming. I think it also represents the value of friendship and sharing humour.”

Tait has seen a lot of Oilers hockey over the years, and he has high hopes for the future.

“My hope is younger Oiler fans will be able to experience the wonderful feeling of winning the Stanley Cup,” said Tait. “It brings a sense of community like no other. Mr. (Bob) Nicholson has a proven record with Hockey Canada at the Olympic level. We can hope, and with just cause, he can do the same with the Oilers. And by winning the draft lottery, Mr. Nicholson is off to a wonderful start.”

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