On October 6, 2015, as part of Community Living Month, the Welcoming Communities committee hosted their first celebration and award presentation event to recognize community inclusion champions in the Comox Valley. Close to 100 people attended the event, which included the award presentations, guest speakers, screening of films about inclusion, and wine and cheese donated by a local winery and a local cheese maker.
The Award recipients are long time contributors to building inclusive communities in Comox, and were chosen by a committee of self advocates, community members and service providers. The award recipients are: Susan Bunn, Executive Director of the Beaufort Association; Robert Buckley, Manager, Coastal Community Credit Union; Michael McLellan, Self Advocate; Heather Crites, Special Needs Recreation, Lewis Centre; Darcy Walters, Manager Recreational Facilities, Regional District; and Russ Keil, family member and former Chair of the CLBC Central and Upper Island Community Council.
One of the award winners, McLellan, helped to spearhead the event and the formation of the committee. McLellan was acknowledged for his numerous and longstanding contributions to the self advocacy movement, and to raising awareness that people with diverseabilities contribute to their communities.
“We started to work on putting this event and award together because we thought it was important for us to acknowledge the incredible contributions people in the Comox Valley are making to help build inclusion for people with diverseabilities. Imagine my surprise when the other committee members also chose me to receive the award!” said McLellan.