Tara Kimberley Torme is a self-advocate who has been diagnosed with Asberger’s Syndrome. She recently attended the InclusionBC conference in Nanaimo, and here she shares her experience of the four-day event. If you would like to read her more detailed recap of the conference, please click here: 2014 InclusionBC Conference Recap

 

 

At the 2014 InclusionBC Conference in Nanaimo keynote speakers elaborated on “Together we can work towards a world where everyone can belong’’.

 

Cindy Blackstock Cindy Blackstock focused on the plight of First Nations’ children in foster care and the lack of services for aboriginal persons with disabilities off the reserves. If more people cared and took action, the disenfranchised would live better lives and become better citizens.

 

Alison TaplayAccording to Alison Taplay diversity is the key element of a successful community. She is against prejudging the abilities of people with developmental disabilities. They are far more able than people think. Their hidden gifts are often not recognised and this erodes their self confidence.

 

CLBC hosted “Putting Employment on the Map” and featured their activities related to the Community Action Employment Plan. The mapping project at UBC aims to promote inclusive employment that can be accessed by self advocates, family members, service providers, and employers. They aim to have 1,200 more people working by 2015. CLBC has the challenging task of matching people with various disabilities and backgrounds to employers who are willing to integrate them into their businesses. A new array of employment services must meet the support needs of individuals and their families.

 

Amythest Schaber Amythest Schaber presented “Autistic Speaking: Self-Advocacy in a Culture of Cure”. She envisions a world where autistics are understood and accepted. The “Culture of Cure’’ harms the Autistic community because it impedes the self-advocacy efforts of individuals. Advocate for yourself in the four main circles of your life: in your family, amongst your peers and friends, in an education or employment setting, and in the realm of organizations, institutions and society. Self-advocacy is asserting your needs and voicing those needs to make those in authority aware of your situation, thus avoiding conflicts.

 

A Native American contribution: “We need to be coming together, giving share. We have to come together for those who don’t have a voice. Those who are self-advocates, politics, leadership need our voice. Never give up – always find new ways of doing things. Through passion comes change. We need to build a pocket with new worlds and build new hope and journey forward. We are all sacred on this land you are sitting on.” Accompanied by a traditional drum Geraldine’s special prayer was calming and soothing.

 

Denise BissonnetteDenise Bissonnette outlined that the four basic human values are belonging and connection, purpose and contribution, competence and achievement, dignity and self-determination. Employment with dignity for people with disabilities is a basic right. Shifting from gate keepers to bridge builders will avoid perpetuating dependence. We must commit to community activism and be the change.

 

Carol SimpsonCarol Simpson presented “Meaningful Employment for People with Autism”. Specialisterne commits that all people have equal opportunities in the labour market. They propose a work environment that is more suitable for people with ASD. They help businesses recognise the talent of people with autism and provide specialized recruitment, training and ongoing job support. They partner with employers who are open to the value of hiring people with ASD. Businesses recognise the shortage of skilled information and technology professionals and the positive and sustainable value of diversity in the workplace. They benefit from the competitive advantage and operational productivity improvement with lower recruitment costs.

 

Tides of Change“Food for Thought’’, featured the screening of “This is the story of a Civil Rights Movement’’ by Don McRae, Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation. The goal is to include people with disabilities in the communities so that they can work for critical income.

 

Denise Bissonnette continued presentation was “Beyond Traditional Job Development: The Art of Creating Opportunity”. She urged job developers to look beyond traditional methods for achieving placement results. The universal hiring rule: employers will hire any applicant so long as the revenue generated will outweigh the costs.

 

The BC Self Advocacy Foundation presented “Promoting Our Abilities”. Their teams connect with employers in their communities and they forecast 100 more workers by 2015. Employers look for 10 jobs skills: punctuality, dedication, knowledge about the business, displaying initiative, attentiveness to customer’s needs, commitment, multi tasking, decision making, organization and dependability.

 

“How to Create Your Own Support Networks” was a Power Point presentation of the Self Advocate booklet. Participants were led through ice-breaker activities to explore ways of building supports in their communities.

 

John RadfordJohn Radford, set the stage for a new vision on how InclusionBC would enact the international Tides of Change in the 21st century. Apartheid in South Africa managed differences by forcing separation on the basis of race. He compared the Psychological foundations of apartheid to that of people with disabilities. The hidden apartheid tragedy was that South Africans came to believe they were “less than’’ or “more than” others.

 

This year’s conference was informative and I enjoyed the workshops.