Disabled Peoples' International North America and the Caribbean

Regional Happenings November 2005

Events in Barbados

Barbados National Council of the Disabled Inc. (BARNOD Inc.) New Executive Board: At the BARNOD biennial general meeting held on Monday, 19th September 2005, a new Executive Board was elected as follows:

  1. Ms. Roslyn Hurley, President was appointed as the Special Envoy for Persons with Disabilities in Barbados on 3rd Dec., 2003.  Ms. Hurley is living with cerebral palsy.

  2. Ms. Alinda Brathwaite, 1st Vice President is a past president of BARNOD working in the private sector who is blind.

  3. Ms.  Michelle Pinder, 2nd Vice President is employed at the National Disability Workshop as a florist who became physically limited as a result of a stroke.

  4. Mrs. Juanita Paul-Gibbs, Secretary is a talented singer who is visually impaired.

  5. Mr.  Winston Callender, Treasurer has had both legs amputated.

  6. Mr.  Barry Weeks, Assistant Secretary/Treasurer is a full-time employee with one of Barbados's supermarket chains who contracted polio during his infancy.

  7. Ms.  Lisa Williams, Public Relations Officer is a very active young lady currently employed in her family's business.  She is a poet and a member of the Barbados Blind Cricket Team and is visually impaired.

  8. Mr. Peterson Boyce is one of 2 floor members.  Mr. Boyce is very active in the community and is currently pursuing studies.  Mr. Boyce is physically challenged.

  9. Ms. Carol-Ann Griffith, the 2nd floor member is a very active member of the Hawthorn Methodist Church where she is a Sunday school teacher.  Ms. Griffith lost her sight within the last 3 years as a result of diabetes.

The new Executive Board has committed to the development of persons with disabilities and looks forward to a close working relationship with the Regional Office.

Public Discussion: The Barbados Organization of Parents of the Disabled staged a public discussion on “Financial Services Available to Families of the Differently Able” that was held on Thursday, 24th Nov., 2005 in the conference room of the Ministry of Education, Youth Affairs and Sports.

Sporting Independence: The Paralympics Association of Barbados hosted a day of sports on 30th Nov., 2005 at the Aubrey Grant Sporting Complex, Carrington Village St. Michael.  The day featured wheelchair racing, wheelchair basketball, blind cricket, and blind dominoes among other sporting disciplines.

Welcome addition to BCD! The Barbados Council for the Disabled (BCD) welcomed physiotherapist Nicola Yard to its staff on a part-time basis working with BCD in its Community-Based Rehabilitation initiative.  Persons with disabilities can receive therapy at home from Ms. Yard on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

The popular Outreach Radio Show usually aired on the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) Radio 900 by BARNOD on Tuesdays at 11:30AM that is pre-recorded on Mondays at 10:30 AM at the CBC Studios, goes off air till the New Year.  Persons interested in appearing on the show can contact Perro Holloway at (246) 422-5001 for scheduling in the New Year.

FAB-U-lous! The Fully Accessible Barbados Award was officially launched on Monday, 7th Nov., 2005 at Hilton Barbados.  The launch was very well received.  This initiative was designed with the following objectives:

Ø       To award the public and private sector that have made their facilities and services accessible for all;

Ø       To promote Barbados as an inclusive society;

Ø       To raise the awareness of the business community to the promotional benefits of receiving an access award; and

Ø       To raise the standard of service delivery to the physically challenged and sensory impaired.

Access to Information – The “Making Life Accessible” pamphlets produced by the Barbados Council for the Disabled (BCD) have been revised and are now available in two documents.  One focuses on the physical access needs of wheelchair users, while the other highlights the challenges of the deaf and the blind.

TTYs in Antigua and Barbuda!

Persistent lobbying by Hands That Speak (HTS), an interdenominational organization that ministers to the hearing-impaired/deaf community in Antigua and Barbuda rewarded HTS with funding to purchase 12 TTYs that will be placed at strategic locations in St. John's, the capital city of Antigua and Barbuda, in addition to donations of several cellular phones from 3 cellular service providers to be provided to deaf individuals.  This phase of the project was launched on Thursday, 10th Nov., 2005 at the National Museum of Antigua and Barbuda with a Seminar including deaf individuals, staff from the General Hospital, representatives from the Police Department, teachers and students from the School for the Deaf and other members of the general public about how the machines work.

Events in Bahamas

Disabled Persons' Organization of the Bahamas welcomes Rick Hansen: The Disabled Persons' Organization (DPO) of the Bahamas welcomed Rick Hansen, the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Rick Hansen Man In Motion Foundation from 17th-20th Nov., 2005.  Rick was there on invitation from the Bank of Nova Scotia to present a keynote address to staff members attending its annual Caribbean Regional Conference on Saturday, 19th Nov., 2005.  DPO arranged a meeting for Rick with the Minister of Social Services and Community Development, Hon. Melanie Griffith whose portfolio includes the Disability Affairs Division and persons with disabilities.  Member organizations of DPO and other NGOs were also present at the meeting.

Disabled Persons' Organization (DPO) of the Bahamas new Board of Directors: At a special General Meeting and Election of Officers on Monday, 17th October, 2005, Miss Naomi Johnson was elected as President for a two-year term, 2005-07. She officially began her term on Tuesday, 1st Nov., 2005.  The composition of the rest of the new Board of Directors will be published very shortly.

The Dominica Association of Disabled People (DADP) launched a week of activities under the theme "Inclusive services, livelihood, and a safe and secure environment" with the objectives of:

  • Disseminating information to the public on Vision 2020 and highlighting areas for local action.

  • Educating the public on ways to understand, relate and interact with persons who are blind and visually impaired.

  • Launching the Association’s Blind Cricket programme.

Here are the day by day activities:

Saturday Nov. 26:            10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. - Training session for Blind Cricketers

7:30 p.m. - Welcome reception for overseas guests and official launch of the week's programme.

Sunday Nov. 27: 7:00 a.m. - Church service

10:00 a.m. - Cricket exhibition match featuring teams from Barbados and Trinidad.

Monday Nov. 28:                 7:15 a.m. - Radio Address by the Minister of Health and Social Security.

10:00 a.m. – 12:00, Blind Awareness Workshop, Cruise Ship Berth Portsmouth.

1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m., White Cane Road Demonstration, Portsmouth

Tuesday Nov. 29:                9:00-10:30 a.m. - Talking Point programme with Dr. Shillingford Ricketts and representatives of DADP.

11:00 a.m. - Marpin Television Programme

7:30 p.m. - Rap Session under the topic Disability and Sexuality at the Reginald Rolle House, the offices of DADP

Wed. Nov. 30:                       11:00 a.m. - Kairi FM Radio Programme using the theme Vision Twenty-Twenty, Our Right to Sight, Equal and Inclusive Services, Livelihood, and a Safe and Secure Environment

Thursday Dec. 1:                  10:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m. - Workshop on Blind Awareness - Roseau

1:00pm. - White Cane Road Demonstration, Roseau

Friday Dec. 2:                        Fun Raising Tag Day

Saturday Dec. 3:            International Day for Disabled Persons theme: “Rights of Persons with Disabilities: Action and Development” - Radio Address by His Excellency N.J.O Liverpool

8:00 p.m. - Mr. DADP Talent Show at the Arawak House of Culture

Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD)

CCD Executive Committee/Social Policy Working Group — Chairperson of  CCD Marie White, Mary Ennis, Jim Derksen, Deborah Stienstra and Laurie Beachell met with representatives of Canadian Association of Community Living (CACL) in Ottawa in September to discuss options for advancing a disability agenda that was being considered by the F/P/T Ministers of Social Services at the meeting that was to take place on the 19th-20th October, 2005.  The options on the table included a disability-related supports transfer to the provinces, making the Disability Tax Credit refundable, a wage subsidy for low income workers and a greater federal role in income support for Canadians with disabilities.  CCD is calling for an initial investment in disability-related supports and study of a greater federal role in poverty reduction that is better than welfare.  CCD urged its members to meet with their Minister of Social Services prior to the October meeting and to make them aware of the need for investment in disability-related supports.

Task Force on Research —CCD and CACL have unveiled a task force to look at the research needs and agendas of the organizations within the disability community.  Over the next few months, there will be an examination of how to enhance the community’s capacity to undertake research owned and controlled by the community.  The Aboriginal community, both in Canada and elsewhere, has taken measures to enhance its own research capacity.  Linda Tuhiwai Smith in Decolonizing Methodologies Research and Indigenous Peoples provides some interesting insights on the community research process.  She comments:  “Defining community research is as complex as defining community.  What community research relies upon and validates is that the community itself makes its own definitions…. Community action approaches assume that people know and can reflect on their own lives, have questions and priorities of their own, have skills and sensitivities which can enhance (or undermine) any community-based projects.” (p. 127)

Vulnerable Persons Research Network — CCD is a part of the research network investigating palliative care issues and people with disabilities.  Jim Derksen is the person that CCD has appointed to undertake its workload for this research project. Along with Dr. Deborah Stienstra, Jim will be conducting focus groups in Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto, and St. John’s.  The first focus group took place in October in Edmonton.

CCD Human Rights Committee: Bill C-407 — On 27th October, 2005, CCD sent a communiqué to all Members of Parliament informing them of its opposition to Bill C-407, an Act to amend the Criminal Code (right to die with dignity). CCD encouraged them to read CCD’s publication “Legalizing Physician Assisted Death:  Can Safeguards Protect the Interests of Vulnerable Persons” by Orville Endicott.

Canadian Museum for Human Rights — Jim Derksen continues to remain in contact with the Canadian Human Rights Museum. Bob McMahon has informed Jim that excavation has not begun on the site because the Museum’s fund raising campaign has not reached its target from the private sector.  The Museum continues to fund raise for this project.  For more information about the museum go to: http://www.canadianmuseumforhumanrights.com.

Social Policy Working Group: Disability-Related Supports — CCD has been working to advance the disability-related supports agenda.  On 19th October, 2005, in the Press Gallery of the House of Commons, Marie White, Laurie Beachell, Traci Walters (CAILC), Michael Bach (CACL) and Zuhy Sayeed (CACL) conducted a press conference to give a backgrounder to the media.  The following Press Release summarizes the points that were made:

 

Wednesday October 19, 2005 

 

CANADIANS WITH DISABILITIES CALL FOR ACTION, NOT MORE STUDY

 

(Ottawa – ON) – A coalition of national organizations today called on federal and provincial Ministers of Social Services to take immediate steps to invest in disability supports for Canadians with disabilities and their families.  Disability supports are those goods or services that enable citizens with disabilities to get jobs, go to school, live independently and participate fully in their communities.  The current system prevents persons with disabilities from accessing these supports, leading to a cycle of exclusion and poverty.

 

The Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD), Canadian Association of Independent Living Centers (CAILC) and the Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL) identified the need for an immediate downpayment to reverse this trend. Over the past 25 years (see background), dozens of major reports have been written identifying disability supports as a major barrier to change.  Today:

  • 56.5% of persons with disabilities are currently unemployed or out of the labor market;

  • persons with disabilities face levels of poverty almost twice that of persons without disabilities;

  • two-thirds of Canadian adults with disabilities lack one or more of the educational, workplace, aids, home modification or other supports they need;

  • slightly more than half of Canadian children with disabilities do not have access to needed aids and devices.

Marie White, CCD National Chairperson, noted, “These statistics are simply unacceptable for any group living in a G8 country and an inclusive society like Canada.  2006 marks the 25 th anniversary of Obstacles, a major Parliamentary report that was to bring fundamental change. We’ve had years of study and we don’t need any more to tell us what persons with disabilities need.”

 

The FPT Ministers of Social Services begin meeting today in Ottawa.  On the agenda will be how to move beyond the current inadequate system to find more funding, create better service delivery mechanisms and develop a long-term disability agenda.

 

Traci Walters, CAILC National Director, stated that: “The strategy must move beyond the tax system and enhance program spending. The tax system is a limited vehicle for making the systemic change that is needed and we cannot abide by more of the same.  The FPT Ministers of Social Services have a chance to do something different, to make true change in the day-to-day lives of persons with disabilities.”

 

Zuhy Sayeed, CACL President, stated, “A long-term strategy must be linked to an investment, in the short-term, in disability supports.  We must confront the poverty of persons with disabilities and their families and reject the exiling of persons with disabilities to welfare systems that are both inadequate and inappropriate. We need income and supports that lift people out of poverty.”

The work that CCD has been doing on disability-related supports is beginning to see results.  On 20 October 2005, the Federal, Provincial and Territorial Ministers of Social Services released a Press Release which stated:

“Ministers affirmed that a key priority for the forum [of Ministers of Social Services] will be persons with disabilities.  They reaffirmed their commitment to the objective of full inclusion of Canadians with disabilities in society.  The focus for achieving this objective will be joint work with emphasis on improving access to and funding for disability supports and services and for income supports for persons with disabilities, at the same time working to build public awareness and stakeholder and government support to address the challenges facing people with disabilities.  At their next meeting, Ministers will consider jointly developed options in these areas that address both the short- and longer-term aspects of achieving this objective.”

CCD International Development Committee

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights — On 19 October 2005, Steve Estey met with Louise Arbour to discuss the proposed UN Convention to Protect and Promote the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities.  She is currently the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights.  The work of a previous High Commissioner, Mary Robinson, who held the post from 1997 to 2002, contributed to the UN’s decision to draft a Convention to protect the human rights of people with disabilities.

Welcome aboard Chris!

Chris Lytle, a Canadian youth with disabilities was invited to join the CCD International Development Committee.  Invitation came on the heels of Chris' participation in the DPI Latin America, and the North America and the English-speaking Caribbean Regions Intercontinental Meeting from 5th-9th Sep., 2005 in Tegucigalpa, Honduras and the work he has been doing since the Meeting.  Chris is a recent university law graduate with a solid background and human rights issues.  Here are examples of some of his academic achievements:

  • 2004-2005, Master of Arts, Critical Disability Studies Program, York University, Toronto

  • Sept 4-10, 2005, Canadian Delegate and Participant, DPI Latin America & North America and the English-speaking Caribbean Regions Intercontinental  Meeting for Human Right Initiatives, Tegucigalpa, Honduras

  • April 2005-August, Research. Disability Rights Promotion International, York Institute for Health Research, Toronto

  • September 2004-April 2005, Teaching Assistant, Health Informatics, Introduction to Health Studies Course 1000.06A, York University, Toronto

  • 2003-2004, Research Assistant, Osgoode Hall Law School, Professional Development Program, Toronto

  • 1998-2004, Bachelor of Arts with Honors, Social Anthropology, York University, Toronto

  • 1998, Inglenook Secondary School, Toronto

St. Lucia Consults on a National Policy for Persons with Disabilities

Consultations on a National Policy for Persons with Disabilities moved into high gear when the National Council of and for Persons with Disabilities Inc. (NCPD Inc.) staged a high profile consultation on Thursday, 17th November, 2005 that included important governmental representatives, and private sector individuals and organizations at the Cara Suite Hotel.

After reviewing the document, the attendants provided excellent feedback that will enhance the final document.  The suggestions will be into the final draft document by the consultant assisting NCPD Mr. Ezra Jno Baptiste.

The meeting was attended by:

Mrs. Cynthia Weekes, Special Education, Ministry of Education

Mr. Alexis Alcide from the St. Lucia Seamen Waterfront & General Workers Trade Union

Ms. Hunt from the Employers Federation

Dr. Bird, Community Pediatrician

Mr. Anthony Avril, Executive Director, St. Lucia Blind Welfare

Ms. Elaine Clement Physiotherapist

Dr. Schuling, Director of Child Development

Ms. Suzanna Jolie, Director, Community Services

Ms. Xysta Edmund, Chief Medical Planner

Ms. Lancia Isidore, Executive Director, NCPD

Senator Rosemond M. Clery, President, National Council of and for Persons with Disabilities