Community partnerships help to create an inclusive Port Coquitlam

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Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation Michelle Stilwell met with staff and self advocates at Community Integration Services Society’s office in Port Coquitlam.

To celebrate Community Living Month, Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation, Michelle Stilwell, toured Melissa Park, Community Integration Services Society (CISS)’s facility in Port Coquitlam to learn how the organization is helping to make their community more inclusive. “I am excited to have the opportunity to see what is happening first-hand and to meet some of the self-advocates who are making significant contributions in the community,” said Stilwell.


Adam is involved in a number of CISS programs and provided Minister Stilwell with a tour of the Melissa Park building.

Adam is one of the people Minister Stilwell met during her visit. Not only is Adam involved with CISS programs like volunteering in a physical fitness program and at a local senior centre, but he was also recently hired by Vancity as one of their Administrators.

Shari Maher, CISS Executive Director, feels that work can have a transformative effect in the lives of people with disabilities and that’s why CISS provides employment skills and training in order for participants to live more independently. “Community partnerships help us achieve our goals,” Mahar says. She notes that they have participants who are working in the community at Starbucks, McDonalds, Boston Pizza, Avon, and more, and she is openly proud of the successes of her participants. “There is so much going on in the community, I can’t keep track of it,” she says.

Kyle’s Kitchen, one of the organization’s programs, is doing just that. Participants, like Sarah, have the opportunity to learn food preparation skills to prepare them for future employment in one of many related career paths. Sarah, who works for Melissa Park Catering, is very proud of her skills and her cooking and most recently made cookies in preparation for Minister Stilwell’s visit – and her family says she couldn’t be happier.

Ashish, a young man with a passion for trains, successfully secured his dream volunteer job with help from CISS and now volunteers at the Port Moody Station Museum. The work that CISS does is all about inclusion. “Our folks are out in the community every day, building relationships,” Mahar says, noting the importance of those interactions.

Minister Stilwell agrees. “People living with diverse abilities are making huge contributions to our communities, and British Columbia is better because of it.”

Learn More

Click here to see a photo gallery from the event.

To learn more about Community Integration Services Society (CISS), visit:

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