Community Living BC (CLBC) is pleased to announce the five inclusion champions from across the province chosen as this year’s Widening our World (WOW) Award winners. Hailing from Salt Spring Island, Kamloops, Vernon, Surrey and Princeton, these five people were selected by a provincial committee of self advocates, family members, service providers and CLBC staff for their innovative ideas and for fostering greater awareness of the benefits of inclusion in their communities.
Each year, CLBC recognizes leaders across B.C. who are making their communities more welcoming and accepting of people with diverse abilities. This year, CLBC received over 60 nominations to recognize people for the work they are doing to make B.C. a more welcoming and inclusive place for people of all abilities.
We congratulate the winners and everyone who was nominated this year. We also thank everyone who took the time to submit a nomination to recognize someone who is promoting the power of inclusion.
Awards will be presented in each winner’s home town during Community Inclusion Month in October. Since 2009, CLBC has presented WOW awards to recognize British Columbians who are creating opportunities for people with developmental disabilities to lead full lives, have rich relationships and choices in how they live and work.
The 2019 CLBC WOW Award winners are:
Gloria Gagnon, Princeton
– Service Provider
Gloria works for Princeton and District Community Services Society as an employment development and self-help supervisor. She has been doing this work for 16 years. Gloria doesn’t stop helping people when she goes home from work. She advocates for people on her off hours, holds parties so people can build connections, provides supports to help people stay in touch with their families, and has invited people to come with her on vacations to help expand their horizons, learning and networks. Gloria includes the people she supports within her wider community, creating opportunities for her friends to become friends with the people she supports.
Katie Moore, Vernon
– Self Advocate
Katie is a passionate and committed leader in the self advocate community in the Okanagan. In 2016, she founded the Okanagan Accessibility group when she needed to regularly start using a wheelchair and found there were many barriers to accessing her community. The Okanagan Accessibility group recognizes local businesses that are accessible, awarding them with a decal to let other people know the business has accommodations for mobility, hearing or vision challenges.
Katie has met with municipalities throughout the Okanagan to talk to them about accessibility and to encourage them to make recreational areas, like parks, more easily accessible for people with diverse abilities. She has also presented provincially to raise awareness of the work of Okanagan Accessibility and to encourage others to bring accessibility concerns forward in their communities.
Krystian Shaw, Kamloops
– Self Advocate
Krystian is the owner and founder of The Kamloops Self Advocate Newsletter, and in September 2019 he celebrated the sixth anniversary of his newsletter. Krystian has used his newsletter as a platform to raise awareness about mental health, diverse abilities and leadership in the self advocate movement.
Krystian is now launching a new program called the Ability Friendly Accessible Business Program that aims to improve relationships between businesses and people with unique mental and physical challenges in the Kamloops area by recognizing business who are accepting and supportive of people with diverse backgrounds, whether they are customers or employees.
Tara Roberts, Surrey – Community Member
Tara has worked with the City of Surrey’s Accessibility and Inclusion department for over 10 years, and has been championing inclusion for over 15 years. In her role with the City, she has helped to build inclusive hiring practices with the City and within the community, created partnerships with the Canucks Autism Network, Rick Hansen Foundation and the Vancouver Parks board to make sport and recreation more accessible, and has encouraged the City to make buildings and city streets more accessible for people with diverse abilities.
As a community member, Tara is also integral to organizing the annual Inclusive Employers Awards, which recognize businesses who are championing inclusive hiring practices, as well as the Get Surrey Working Hiring Fair.
Salt Spring Island Fire Rescue, Salt Spring Island – Community member
For over 16 years, Salt Spring Island Fire Rescue has set an example of inclusion by welcoming CJ into the “fire hall family.” Every week, firefighters have CJ test the emergency lights on the engines and other fire vehicles along with the sirens, radios, hoses and other vital equipment. They support him to go out on inspections and equipment testing runs, to change the fire hazard ratings on the signs at the three ferry terminals on the island, and at times, to participate on a call.
CJ attends the fire hall’s social events throughout the year, including the annual summer BBQ and the Firefighter’s Appreciation Night held by the community. Firefighters also fund his participation in Operation Trackshoes, a sporting event held every year at the University of Victoria.