The Catholic Health Corporation of Manitoba was proud to sponsor the 27th annual Canadian Conference on Developmental Disabilities and Autism, which had record breaking attendance, with over 700 attendees October 30 and over 650 attendees on October 31 at the Victoria Inn and Conference Centre, in Winnipeg.
A wide array of research, trends and topics on disabilities were discussed, while the overarching themes were inclusion, social justice and progress.
“Love is only a value if it’s expressed” said Dr. Cindy Blackstock. She opened the conference with a powerful presentation showing us that the past isn’t that far behind and there’s still more work to do to achieve equal rights for Indigenous peoples in Canada. She empowered attendees to continue to be advocates, highlighting Jordan’s Principle as a tool.
Jordan’s Principle is a commitment from the Canadian Government, that First Nations children will receive the products, services and supports they need, when they need them. Payments will be worked out later. This principle was developed in Jordan River Anderson’s legacy. Born with a rare muscle disorder, he died at age 5 in Hospital. A funding dispute between the provincial and federal governments meant he never had the opportunity to live with his family or in a home, he spent his entire life in a hospital.
Attendees were invited to a special screening of The Messenger- the Jordan River Anderson documentary, only the second screening after the Toronto International Film Festival.
St.Amant Research findings as well as personal stories from families affected by Jordan’s Principle were shared. In 2018, more than 250,000 children, who previously hadn’t received supports, were helped through this law.
Jordan’s Principle wasn’t the only legislation discussed, Senator Jim Munson and his team presented Bill C-81 on accessibility which lead to interesting questions and discussions that he will take back with him to Ottawa. Judy Wasylycia-Leis, parent advocate with a political career which spanned decades both as a member of parliament and an MP, empowered us to build on the momentum that Disability Matters Vote created, to engage in political activism and continue to develop innovative programming and supports for those who need it.
With more than 42 different workshops, a connection lounge for networking and research poster presentations available throughout the 2-day experience, each attendee had the freedom to customize their day to suit their needs and interests. Although focused on disability, the conference is interesting and inspiring for anyone interested in social justice.
The 28th annual Canadian Conference on Developmental Disabilities and Autism will be held on Tuesday October 6 and Wednesday October 7, 2020.