BC People First had our annual conference on May 15-18, 2014 at Inn at the Quay in New Westminster, BC. On our first night, a comedian night, we had Conrad as MC to make sure everything was staying on track and to introduce our guests. Richard McDonald told some funny jokes and made people laugh. Then we had Ben Simcoe do his act full of impressions of people. At the end he had some of the audience get up and play trumpets while he sang. This went from 7:00pm till 9:00pm, during which we held conference registration, too.
On Friday, there was registration again. We had Fred Ford of BC Representative for Children and Youth tell us what they do and what kind of services they offer. He also let people know that as part of their mandate, they now they offer assistance to people getting service from CLBC from ages of 19 to 24. He talked about how it came about through a partnership between BC People First Provincial Board and the Representative for Children and Youth. He even told people that we did a presentation in front of his staff in January. Fred talked about how we helped them put a brochure together in plain language and we took some rights out of the UN Convention. Fred spoke about when he first started working with people labeled with a disability, how the ‘R’ word was used, and how badly so many of the people he worked with were treated. He loved the title of the conference ‘We Stand Stronger Together’ because he thinks we all need to stand together to make sure people labeled with a disability are treated with the respect they deserve.
There was a moment of silence for those who had lived in Woodlands and Michener. We need to remember what happened in these institutions.
In the afternoon we did an activity called the Rights Game. Everyone put up a red card if it was against their right, a green card if it was for their rights and a yellow card if they were not sure. There were three panelists: Barb Goode, Lorie Sherrit, and Michael Mclellen. They said what the questions meant to them. This game got many people talking about what is a right and what is a want.
On Saturday, we started with Trica Lins talking about the Include Me project. She discussed how they go out and do the survey and what kind of questions they ask. After the break the next speakers were Teresa and Kayla from the On My Way project; a mom and a daughter talking about how Kayla was successful in reaching a lot of her dreams and goals in life. So many people in the audience were very inspired by Kayla’s story.
Right after lunch, Chad Leaman told us what kind of services Neil Squire Society offers, and he also did a lot of audience participation. We learned the real facts about how little it takes to hire a person with a disability and what great employees we are. Our next speakers were from the project of Prompting Our Abilities. They were talking about the new pilot projects and objectives, and the two presenters were Jerry Laidlaw and Joanne. Then they introduced one of the pilot projects from the Lower Mainland: Ashley Baker, Conrad and one other person. They talked about their project and what they did and showed a video.
We had Taya Norman moderate some questions for the panel consisting of Mike, Jo-Anne, Conrad, Ashley Baker and Sheenagh. They told people about the success in their jobs and about how they started their own business.
On Sunday there was our AGM. We held elections and elected a new member to the Board: Conrad Tyrkin. We are also happy Lori Sherrit has accepted the position as Consultant to the Board.