Debbie Moore watched with pride as her daughter Katie recently received a CLBC Widening Our World Award for her leadership in breaking down barriers to make Okanagan communities more accessible and inclusive.
“We’ve worked very intentionally to create community in a meaningful way for Katie,” says Debbie, who is actively involved in the community living sector. “It was lovely to see the diversity of people who attended the event and all of the natural connections Katie has made since we moved here.”
Finding your way in a new country
Debbie and her husband Dave immigrated from the United Kingdom 11 years ago with their five children and now live in Coldstream. Their eldest Katie, 34, and their youngest Tim, 23, both receive support from CLBC. Since moving to the Okanagan, Debbie has connected with people in her community to plan for the best life possible for her family.
She started by knocking on the door of local service provider Kindale Developmental Association, where she was guided toward CLBC to set up services for her daughter. But Debbie didn’t stop at CLBC, she reached deeper into Vernon and the surrounding communities by connecting to her local church, creating a monthly friendship group and most recently supporting Katie and her friends to start the Okanagan Accessibility Self Advocacy group. Today, Debbie is also the manager of Kindale’s home sharing services, and Katie is the People’s Representative, bringing self advocate concerns to the Kindale board.
Having moved her family from another country, Debbie understands how overwhelming it can be for families to navigate the system, understand all the options and plan for the future.
“Families need two things on this journey: resilience and tenacity,” says Debbie, “It’s hard to plan when you don’t know what’s out there. We can’t take no for an answer when we find something that works.”
There’s no resource like a parent who has gone ahead of you
As a member of her local CLBC North Okanagan Shuswap Community Council for the past two years, Debbie has tried to strengthen family support and help link parents and self advocates to each other.
“There’s no resource like a parent who has walked that path ahead of you,” says Debbie. “Being able to share information and communicate with people at a local level is very important. If we can make our Council a proactive, well-known resource for families, that would be a very good thing.”
The 13 CLBC Community Councils around the province are made up of family members, self advocates, service providers and other community partners like teachers, doctors and business owners. They work with CLBC and the broader community to strengthen inclusion and belonging for people with diverse abilities, as well as provide opportunities for families and self advocates to learn from one another.
While Debbie is keen to bring people together at the local level, she is also a strong believer in the voice of those served by CLBC on the provincial level. To this end, Debbie is excited to take on her next role as the newly elected Chair of the CLBC Provincial Advisory Committee (PAC). The PAC is made up of either a self advocate or a family member representative from each of the 13 Community Councils and plays a key role in ensuring two-way communication between people served and the CLBC Board.
Debbie says, “CLBC Councils represent a wealth of experience and wisdom within this field. I feel that the ‘front line’ input provided to the CLBC Board via the PAC is essential.”
Be realistic, but think creatively
Looking back on the last 10 years, Debbie is grateful for the relationships she has made in her community, including the informal ways families contact her for guidance navigating systems of support they need for their sons and daughters. Her advice to others is to be realistic about expectations and to think creatively by building relationships with others in community who can help. Debbie has learned first-hand the benefits of being a bridge builder and looks forward to bringing her practice of collaboration into her role as the CLBC PAC Chair.
She says, “It’s very gratifying to see fulfillment in our children when we work together to make sure everyone is fully aware of what’s out there.”
Councils play an important role
CLBC Community Councils are local groups of self-advocates, families, community members and service providers who want to help their community become more welcoming.
Community Councils work collaboratively with community partners on projects that support community inclusion, citizenship and full participation of people with developmental disabilities.
Interested in taking part in your local Community Council? Find your nearest Council here along with information for contacting them about attending an upcoming meeting.