Retreat draws delegates from near and far

Self advocates gathered in Abbotsford for the 2015 Edenvale Retreat.

Self advocates gathered in Abbotsford for the 2015 Edenvale Retreat.

This October marked the 16th Annual Edenvale Self Advocacy Leadership Retreat in Abbotsford, B.C. The three-day weekend event brought together new and old friends from across the province to celebrate and advocate as members of B.C.’s Self Advocacy movement – a civil rights movement led by those labelled as having an intellectual or developmental disability.

The Edenvale retreat started in July 2000, with sponsorship from community living agency H.O.M.E.S. (Healthy Opportunities for Meaningful Experiences Society), who recognized the power and commitment of a fast growing network of self advocacy groups in the Fraser Valley.

Sixteen years later, community partners and allies of the self advocacy movement from all over British Columbia, and as far as Northern Ontario, continue to work together to coordinate and sponsor this important reunion of leaders. Gregg Schiller and Arlene Schouten have been a key organizers of this event from the very beginning.

The Edenvale Retreat and Conference Centre hosts the event and is a place that reminds us that anyone can be a self advocate and that we must take the time to listen and honour the voices of all people.

Linda Ash and Carol West from Prince George attended Edenvale for their first time and share their experiences here.

Carol: “This was my first time attending the retreat. Our group drove for 10 hours on a Greyhound bus and when we came in we had a great welcome. Our first workshop was ‘express yourself’ where we did pictures and listened to Gregg play the piano. Friday and Saturday night there was a bonfire and the self advocate game show. And there was Halloween food, fun, dance and party time. I would like to say thank you to the Prince George Self Advocacy Caucus for sending me down and covering my cost. I had a great time.”

Linda: “There was a lot to do in those few days and good food and staff who made it a great time. Thank you to all. I liked the turkey dinner the best! Thank you Gregg and others who made my stay feel good. I would like to thank Prince George Self Advocacy Caucus for sending me down and covering my cost.”

The 17th annual Edenvale Retreat will take place in October 2016 on Thanksgiving weekend. For more information, email: GreggSchiller@shaw.ca.


To learn more about upcoming self advocacy conferences and many other events, visit the CLBC online events calendar at: www.CommunityLivingBC.ca/Events.

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