Remembering and honouring Self-Advocacy Leader Vanessa Mendoza

A photo shows Vanessa smiling and sitting at a revolving restaurant.

Self-Advocacy Leader Vanessa Mendoza.

It is with deep sadness that we share the news of the sudden passing of a friend and colleague, Vanessa Mendoza, on February 22, 2024.  Many of us at CLBC and in the community living and self-advocacy movements were touched by Vanessa’s gracious leadership and her journey to build more accessible and inclusive communities for all of us.

Vanessa was a kind and gentle person who generously offered her lived experience to help others build the courage to speak up for what they believe in. She was incredibly respectful and thoughtful and had the ability to make you feel safe and seen and valued when working together. Vanessa was someone who many just wanted to be friends with instantly. She was always reliable and showed up with a smile; she wanted to help no matter what the task.

Vanessa’s confidence in herself as a leader grew significantly during the last six years, and her contribution to the work of CLBC cannot be underestimated. She was a member of the CLBC Editorial Board, Vancouver Community Council, North Shore Sunshine Coast Council, Provincial Advisory Committee, Accessibility Advisory Committee, and was a CLBC Welcome Workshop Presenter. In addition to her work with CLBC, Vanessa was a Director on the Board of BC People First, a provincial organization run by and for people labelled with an intellectual disability. As part of her achievements in these roles, Vanessa worked to break down barriers so that people with disabilities would have the same opportunity for belonging and full citizenship as anyone else. In her own words published in CLBC’s Celebrate Diverse Abilities Magazine in 2019, Vanessa wrote:

“My advice for others? Don’t be afraid to advocate for your independence. I know it’s easier said than done because usually the people trying to help are people that care. I’ve learned that part of the path to independence is developing the courage to speak up for it.”

Vanessa will be deeply missed by her friends and colleagues here at CLBC and beyond. However, her voice will continue to shape our practice and build our courage to speak up for what’s right and for what will support independence and inclusion in the lives of those we serve.

Here is Vanessa’s full story published in the Celebrate Diverse Abilities Magazine.

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