Jim Derksen

Today was International Day of Persons With Disabilities and in honour of that staff at Pulford attended an event at the Canadian Museum of Human Rights hosted by Abilities Manitoba. The event featured some key speakers who have been apart of the battle for the advancement of the rights for disabled Manitobans.

Beginning with Jim Derksen and Yvonne Peters who spoke about the role they both played in making sure that people all over the country with disabilities would be protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Yvonne spoke about how people with disabilities were not covered in the original draft of the Charter before it was adopted in 1982. She said that it was only through strong advocacy that it was amended to include those protections.

Dale Kendel spoke about the landmark Vulnerable Persons Act of 1996 which gave agency to people with disabilities so that they could make their own choices. Before the Act persons with disabilities could not legally make decisions about their own lives and now, thanks to the Act, they have the same capacity as any other citizen in Manitoba. Dale also asked for a provincial review of this act so that it can be updated to meet new standards.

Lastly the newest piece of Legislation that provides new opportunities and opens new doors for people with disabilities. The Accessibility for Manitobans Act is the most important human rights legislation adopted in Manitoba in more than a decade as it works to tear down the barriers that keep people with disabilities from working, living and playing in the same spaces those without disabilities do. On Nov. 1 of this year the Accessibility Standard for Customer Service came into effect which is only the first of five standards to be introduced. The full implementation of the Act is supposed to be detailed and in place by 2023 so there is still a lot of work left to do.

It is important to remember that while progress and meaningful change feel slow that the world is changing and we are making a difference.

Dale Kendel