Message from A Parent
I'm attaching a couple of pictures of my daughter, Stephanie.
As for myself, I've always advocated for inclusion right through K to 12. Stephanie has never been in a resource room. In 1999, I started an inclusive summer program in Prince Albert, SK and in 2002 inclusion at UVic with other interested families. We dissolved in 2006 and STEPS-Forward took over and I'm now on their board. STEPS-Forward is an inclusive post-secondary education initiative on several campuses in BC. Is that OK as a comment on me?
I just wrote an article on the cutbacks to community living here in BC and it was published in the paper yesterday. I can send it on if you like.
The day our daughter, Stephanie, came into the world I promised her she would never be excluded or segregated because of her disability. I promised her she would have equal opportunity for the good things in life- things like an education, friends, university, employment and a community that looks after one another.
We fought for our daughter, Stephanie, to be included in regular classes from kindergarten onwards and she was the first in our district 21 years ago to be taught in a regular classroom. We felt that there would be higher expectations in regular classes and good examples for her to learn to speak and act appropriately. This was born out in spades when she learned to read in grade two, made friends and was invited to children’s birthday parties. Throughout her school career in Alberta, Ontario and Saskatchewan, she was in regular classes studying academic subjects alongside her peers. It was not easy because the school system could not see the benefit in her taking academic grade 12 courses if she was not going to get a Dogwood, or move on into post secondary education.
However, because of her full inclusion in the K-12 system Stephanie was exposed to subjects and ideas that motivated her to keep learning and more importantly reinforced her citizenship and right to belong in the same places as her brother and her neighbours and her classmates. As such, Stephanie became one of the first students with a developmental disability to spearhead the Inclusive Post Secondary Education movement in BC. In 2004 she become a participatory auditing student at the University of Victoria where she followed her passions to learn about leadership, health and education. Naturally, her inclusion in public school instilled in her the right to study alongside other university students with similar career interests. Stephanie had her course work modified and adapted to meet her learning style and with the appropriate inclusion support she became a fully participating university student. During her time at UVic she had several summer jobs at her local recreation center where she was supported to assist in teaching children volleyball, yoga, belly dancing, food bingo and other fun activities. In 2009 Stephanie received a Certificate of Completion from the UVic Faculty of Education. Once again, our daughter graduated alongside her classmates who were also becoming leaders in their community.
We feel proud of Stephanie for pioneering the way, not only for other K-12 students, but for being in University courses in the Education department where future teachers have had an opportunity to see full inclusion at the post secondary level. If modifications can be successfully done with university curriculum, surely they can be done in elementary and secondary schools
Today our daughter has a job at her community health and wellness store. She is about to join her local district’s ‘Healthy Schools’ committee and continues to look for roles where she can contribute her leadership skills. Stephanie is earning enough to enjoy some of the activities she likes to do – cruises, movies, etc.. She has many friends and people who recognize her and she leads a very active life. She does not need a program and we envision her being able to live in her own apartment someday. Her confidence is growing daily and she is a very positive young woman with a great sense of humour. Inclusive education works from pre-school right through to post secondary. Our daughter’s full and meaningful life is living proof.
Marlene Munn was born and raised in Labrador although she now lives in Fredericton. Marlene is a mother and is the President of the New Brunswick Association for Community Living. She shared her experience working with teachers to have her daughter Aimee included in school and noted the positive results achieved.
Christy Waldner, Muenster, Saskatchewan is a mother and advocate for inclusive education. She is a member of the board of the Saskatchewan Down Syndrome Society and was a delegate to the Western Canadian Conference on Inclusive Education held in Regina in November. Christy is seen here (on right) with her daughter Bailey who is enrolled in a teacher education program. Christy is anxious to see inclusion achieved in her community schools.
Salvatore Amenta – or Sal as he is called, is the co-chair of Community Living Ontario’s education committee. A retired teacher, Sal brings both passion and experience to the effort to support inclusion in Ontario schools. Under Sal’s leadership the committee is moving towards setting priorities for advancing the association’s inclusive education mandate.
Comprised of about a dozen members representing diverse perspectives from parents to executive directors of local associations, the committee consolidates the ongoing work in education of Community Living Ontario’s community development, government relations, and communications departments. Amenta notes that the complexities of the education system present challenges for the committee as they develop a working plan to tackle issues.
Inclusive Education Sector Forum in St. John’s
Key players in projects promoting inclusive education supported by the “Community Inclusion Initiative” met this summer in St. John’s. They shares strategies and were updated on things happening in several provinces – among them Newfoundland & Labrador, New Brunswick, Ontario, Manitoba, British Columbia and the Northwest Territories. Shown here are Shana Soucy, the Inclusive Education Coordinator for NBACL and Ray McIsaac, the President of NLACL. These projects are supported by Federal Office of Disability Issues - (ODI) – Human Resources and Skills Development Canada.
Governor General announces 74 new appointments to the Order of Canada
June 30, 2010
OTTAWA—Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, Governor General of Canada, announced today 74 new appointments to the Order of Canada. The new appointees include three Companions (C.C.), 18 Officers (O.C.), and 53 Members (C.M.). These appointments were made on the recommendation of the Advisory Council for the Order of Canada.
Recipients will be invited to accept their insignia at a ceremony to be held at a later date.
Awarded for the first time in 1967, during Canada’s Centennial Year, the Order of Canada launched the creation of our country’s own system of honours. For more information on the Canadian Honours System, please consult the Web site: http://www.gg.ca/document.aspx?id=67&lan=eng.
One of the recipients was Gordon Porter and the New Brunswick Association for Community Living issued this release.
DR. GORDON PORTER NAMED TO ORDER OF CANADA
July 6, 2010
(Fredericton, NB) The New Brunswick Association for Community Living (NBACL) is pleased to note that one of its long-time volunteers has been awarded Canada’s highest civilian honour for lifetime achievement. On Wednesday, June 30th, Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, Governor General of Canada, announced the appointment of Dr. Gordon L. Porter, former chair of the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission and Director of Inclusive Education Initiatives with the Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL), as a member of the Order of Canada.
The Order of Canada is presented annually to those who have demonstrated excellence, courage or exceptional dedication to service in ways that bring special credit to Canada. Dr. Porter, a retired professor who was among 74 new appointees, will be receiving the honour for his leadership in promoting the rights of Canadians with disabilities, particularly children.
A native of Woodstock, NB, Dr. Porter has been a stalwart supporter of inclusive education in New Brunswick and is recognized internationally for his work in this area, which has influenced educational practices around the world. He has consulted and taught on inclusive education in over a dozen countries, including Peru, New Zealand, South Africa, Portugal, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Bolivia and a number of francophone African countries, as well as Canada and the U.S.
“This is such a well-deserved honour, recognizing Dr. Porter’s local-to-global leadership for inclusive education - from its earliest beginnings to its recognition as a right in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities,” says Michael Bach, executive vice president of the Canadian Association for Community Living.
“It speaks to the remarkable man that he is, and to the highest regard in which his work, and indeed the cause of people with an intellectual disability, is held.”
Dr. Porter has also been involved with the New Brunswick Association for Community Living’s Inclusive Education Commitee for several years and has played a key role in setting New Brunswick apart as a leader in inclusive education locally and globally.
“NBACL is very proud of the achievements of Dr. Porter, who has dedicated his life to ensuring that all children here in New Brunswick and internationally have the neccessary supports to learn, participate and contribute fully in every aspect of school life,” says Marlene Munn, president of NBACL.
"Gordon Porter has been a tremendous advocate for the idea that quality teaching can reach every child. His passionate belief that we should leave no child behind has allowed us not only to rethink the classroom, but to rethink the limits of what is possible. New Brunswick is a leader in inclusive education today because of our outstanding educators, and Gordon has inspired and assisted many of those teachers,” says Kelly Lamrock, Minister of Social Development.
“This is a well-deserved honour for Gordon Porter. He has not only contributed to making New Brunswick a leader in inclusive education, but is recognized as a leader in inclusive education internationally. His dedication to inclusive education has opened school doors to children around the world,” says Education Minister Roland Haché.
Dr. Porter will be invited to accept his insignia at a ceremony to be held at a later date.
Supporting families – on a Mission
Janis Jaffe-White and Reva Schafer of the Toronto Family Network have advocated for more than 1,000 families fighting for school supports for their children. The two are a force to be reckoned with in education circles in Toronto.
They help families in their struggle to get school boards to comply with their obligation to provide legally mandated supports.
Janis has identified what she calls a "major relationship crisis" between parents on the one side, and school boards and the ministry on the other.
The duo told a reporter for the Toronto Star that –
The parents just want what their child is legally entitled to, but, too often, boards refer them to the ministry and the ministry sends them back to the school system while the child falls farther behind. These parents have nowhere to go," says JaffeWhite.
Reva & Janis have called for the creation of an independent education ombudsmen to review parents' complaints. Other advocates have called on the education system to change their approach as well.
Reva and Janis are shown here with Bruce Rivers, the Executive Director of Community Living Toronto, a family and advocacy NGO working with Community living Ontario and CACL on a tri-level effort to promote change in education in Toronto.
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