Conference provides voice for those with developmental disabilities

B.C. Association for Community Living conference will bring about 400 people to Penticton Trade and Convention Centre

  • May. 29, 2012 6:00 a.m.

Penticton will be hosting what is considered one of the biggest and best conferences on developmental disability in Canada this week.

The B.C. Association for Community Living, in conjunction with the Penticton and District Community Resources Society and Penticton and District Society for Community Living, will be having their annual conference at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre. The event begins Wednesday and runs through Saturday.

Organizers of the conference expect around 400 people to be attending, taking part in more than 50 workshops and sessions on a wide variety of developmental disability topics, from employment, education and housing to the arts — sessions and workshops that are already nearly full.

One of the sessions of note is a talk by the Gauthiers, a B.C. family who shares what it was like overcoming barriers of social stigmatization to form a family and eventually become parents with developmental disabilities.

As well, there are a number of keynote speakers during the conference, including the speaker on Thursday, former B.C. premier Ujjal Dosanjh, who will be talking about organizing and advancing social justice causes, such as community living.

Dosanjh said that especially when governments become financially tight, equality and social justice organizations such as the community living association are vital to give a voice to developmentally disabled people, and fight for their rights

“These are the kinds of things that fall off the shelf first, and people who don’t have a voice, that aren’t able to organize the way others are able to organize, get left behind,” he said.

As well, the B.C. community living organization will be holding elections for its self-advocacy caucus.

Faith Bodnar, executive director of the association, said the caucus is a way in which people with developmental disabilities hold the board of the association to task, and ensure they’re acting on what people with developmental disabilities are concerned about.

Bodnar said the event isn’t only a way to talk about the new advances in community living, but a way “to celebrate our good work and also to give each other that shot in the arm when we go back, to say we know people across the province who think the way we do, and who believe in what we do.

“It’s inspiring, it’s innovative and it’s just a showcase of the best of B.C. around community living,” she said.

For more information on the conference, or on the B.C. Association for Community Living, visit www.bcacl.org/conference-2012.