Submission by David Johnston, Director of BCPF and Ariel Pavic, Provincial Coordinator BCPF

Title: BC People First in partnership with CLBC South Fraser Region Self Advocates
“I Be Proud, You Be Proud” Conference 2018

The BC People First Society In partnership with CLBC South Fraser Region Self Advocates held the “I Be Proud, You Be Proud” Leadership Conference on March 15th 2018.  Self Advocates from across the South Fraser Region gathered together to celebrate what makes them proud at the Quality Hotel and Conference Centre in Abbotsford, BC. This was the first ever conference partnership between CLBC and BC People First.

About BC People First:
The BC People First Society (BCPF) is a non-profit organization that has been a provincial voice for rights since 1981. We are part of a strong international movement and independent group of people who have been labelled with developmental disabilities. We are unique in that we are run by people who have been labelled FOR people who have been labelled. We work to make sure that people who have been labelled are respected and included in communities as full citizens. We do this by supporting each other to speak up for ourselves and others. Our vision is a diverse community where all people are: included and involved; honoured and respected; seen for their abilities and supported to participate.

B.C. People First is a way for many self-advocacy groups to come together and have a voice as leaders, mentors and advocates. BCPF aims to create ways for people with developmental disabilities to get together to learn from each other and share experiences. Networking is very important: our movement depends on people getting together to learn from each other, learn how other groups are addressing issues in their lives, find out what is important to other self advocates, promote our vision and values and promote self determination and speaking up (self advocacy). Conferences are one of the best ways to network.

The ”I Be Proud, You Be Proud” conference had just over 170 people in attendance. 12 Regions were represented: Richmond, Surrey, Delta, Abbotsford, Langley, Chilliwack, Mission, Burnaby, Port Coquitlam, Vancouver, Courtenay (Vancouver Island) and Dawson Creek. 12 different Self Advocacy groups/Organizations participated. BC People First had 25 new members sign up at this conference. Membership is FREE and is open to people who have been labelled with a developmental disability. Please email BFPF at bcpfcoordinator@gmail.com if you would like to sign up to be a member.
To learn more about BCPF, please visit our website at www.bcpeoplefirst.com
The Conference Sessions Program Highlights:
Opening remarks were given by the Deputy Mayor of Abbotsford, Dave Loewen, CLBC Director of Operations Jai Birdi and BCPF President Michael McLellan. 11 unique, new and original presentations were created specifically for the conference and given by Self Advocates. These presentations provided participants with a variety of learning and speaking opportunities on Conference theme of pride. Advocates Leanne Dospital (Advocate for Service Quality), Jessica Humphrey (CLBC Self Advocate Advisor) and Tina Dam (Community Inclusion Advocate from Inclusion BC) gave presentations. Self Advocate performance Artist Ben Simcoe hired to provide lunch time entertainment and table space was provided for Self Advocate Organizations/Groups to display materials.

Here’s what BCPF Regional Director of the North of BC and Treasurer, David Johnston, (who traveled all the way from Dawson Creek to attend) had to say about the conference:

“I thought the People First conference in Abbotsford was really good and that people enjoyed them self. We had the highest number of of people at the conference (that we have ever had attend a conference) and that was really good to see.  We got 25 new members out (for BCPF).

I even thought it was really good because we had people doing presentations for the first time that has never presented in front of a big crowd. We as People First started a up an award (called the Phil Allen President’s Award) and we presented it for the first time ever to Lorie Sherritt.

We had all kinds of different work shops that were presented by people who are self advocates. There was a different presentation by the Advocate for Service Quality by Leanne Dospital. We had a whole bunch of raffle prizes there! We also had a work shop on language savants for people with diverse abilities by Lyle Lexier, and one also on supportive decision making by Michael McLellan. We also had a work shop called  “How I am advocate by Sierra Dean from SAS….just to name  a few.

I thought It was really good that we partnership with CLBC!”

The first ever BCPF Phil Allen President’s Award:
BC People First created a new award, in honor of Phil Allen’s memory called the Phil Allen President’s Award. This award was to be presented for outstanding leadership and excellence in the Self Advocacy Community.
All Phil Allen wanted to do was make a difference, and he did.  For over 50 years Phil was a champion for the rights and inclusion of people with Disabilities and advocated for the closure of Institutions. BCPF wanted to honor his memory by recognizing other people who are following in his footsteps. Phil’s widow, Wendy Allen, came to present this award.

This award was presented to Lorie Sherritt. Lorie was the first female president of BCPF. Lorie is the self advocate consultant to the BCPF Board of Directors, and helps many other self advocates navigate their lives. Lorie played a big part in the movement to close down Woodlands, the ceremony celebrating it’s closure and advocating for the end to institutions. Lorie also works with PosAbilities. She was very deserving of this award, congratulations Lorie!

Vision Achieved:

The history of People First in Canada started with a vision for people who have been labeled to build and run their own organization, to speak up for themselves and others, to promote acceptance, inclusion and full participation for people who have been labelled. The theme of the conference was meant to get people thinking about being proud, and what they do that makes them proud. Through the planning and attending of this conference, it was clear that this was a reality. The BCPF board of Directors and CLBC self advocates on the conference planning committee are very proud of their accomplishment!


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