MLA Rob Fleming, Sheenagh Morrison and MLA Carole James at the December 3, 2013 event to proclaim the first International Persons with Diversabilities Day for the City of Victoria.

MLA Rob Fleming, Sheenagh Morrison and MLA Carole James at the December 3, 2013 event to proclaim the first International Persons with Diversabilities Day for the City of Victoria.

On December 3, 2013, Victoria’s City Council officially proclaimed the day as “International Day or Persons with Diversabilities.” A celebration at City Hall was attended by more than 70 self advocates, family members, service providers, City Councillors, Victoria MLAs and community members. Presenters and speakers included Sheenagh Morrison, a local self advocate who had requested the proclamation, Victoria City Councillor Chris Coleman, MLA Carole James and Michelle Goos, a family member and self advocate. 

Sheenagh also wrote a great article about the experience which we are happy to share with you below:

I started planning the International Persons with Diversabilties event back in June of this year. I went to the South Island Community Council and presented to them what I wanted to do this year; that my dream and wish was to get the word diversability proclaimed by the City of Victoria. They agreed that they would partner with me.

I then contacted the City of Victoria and asked them if I could make a presentation to the Mayor and Council about diversability and the self advocate movement. They agreed to have me come and present. I then wrote a speech and waited until August when I was scheduled to go to the City of Victoria Council meeting.

When I went there I presented the No More Barriers vide (click here to see the video) . I told them about my life situation and what my dream wish was, which was to have the City proclaim December 3, 2013, as International Persons with a Diversability Day. They said they would get back to me and two weeks later they emailed me and said “Yes!”.

In September, I started working with my planning committee. We met in person, and also made phone calls and wrote emails back and forth. I wanted to ask the City of Victoria if we could host the event at City Hall, so I made the request and they said, “Yes”.

I talked to my planning committee about what I wanted the event to look like, and this is what happened on December 3 of this year:

  • I made an agenda of what I wanted to see happen and we all agreed to that. This included playing the No More Barriers video, and talking about diversability and the self advocacy movement.
  • My friend, Michelle Goos, also came and talked about her family and what inclusion means to her.
  • We said that I would be the MC for the event, and I worked on speaking notes to introduce everyone, and also for my presentations.
  • I asked two of the Victoria MLAs to come to the event, Rob Fleming and Carole James. I also asked Carole James to speak at the event.
  • I also asked that the Mayor come and read the proclamation (click here to read the proclamation) at the event. The Acting Mayor was going to come but she was not well, so Councillor Chris Coleman came and read the proclamation. He also presented me with an official proclamation in a frame to hang on my wall.
  • At the end, we invited everyone to come and sign a Diversability banner. I am taking the banner to the next self advocacy meeting to have more people sign it and then I am going to use it for presentations.

We had over 70 people come to the event. My planning committee and I worked hard to get invitations out. We asked people we knew to send it out to people they know, we posted it on Facebook, the local CLBC office sent it out to service providers and other people they know, and I went to the local radio stations and asked them to advertise the event. I even got an interview with CBC radio! (click here to listen to the inverview) We also asked the City to put up a poster invitation we made in libraries and recreation centres.

I feel proud of having putting on this event. I feel like I learned to be more confident in community because I did a lot of outreach by myself. I am planning on asking the City of Victoria to do this again next year. I am also doing a presentation in January 2014 to the City of Oak Bay. One of their Councillors was at the December 3 event. It’s very exciting!