Sheryl Burns is a long-time social justice activist. She has been a participant in the women’s movement, working as a front line worker in transition houses and as a legal advocate for battered women. In addition, she has been an activist in the disability rights movement for the past several years.
Sheryl has co-authored a report on the child protection system and mothers with disabilities entitled “Mothers with Disabilities and the BC Child Protection System”. She recently wrote two reports on behalf of YWCA Vancouver on Mothers without Legal Immigrant Status. The first, “Single Mothers without Permanent Status in Canada: The Intersection of the Immigration System and the Family Law System: Information for Service Providers” is for front line support workers of mothers without status. The second report is entitled “Single Mothers without Permanent Status: Caught in the Intersection Between Immigration Law and Family Law”.
As a social justice activist and person with a disability, Sheryl has worked to promote the inclusion of persons with disabilities within and external to the Labour movement. She is a member of the City of Vancouver’s Persons with Disabilities Advisory Committee, a current Board member of Disability Alliance BC, former Chair of the CUPE National Persons with Disabilities Working Group, former chair and current member of the CUPE BC Persons with Disabilities Working Group, former CUPE BC member representative on the CUPE National Women’s Task Force and current Persons with Disabilities Representative on the CUPE National Women’s Committee. Sheryl also represents persons with disabilities on the BC Federation of Labour Human Rights Committee and the BC Federation of Labour Executive Board.
Pat Danforth has more than 30 years of governance and board experience in a wide variety of government and not for profit sectors. She is committed to embracing and leading change that makes a difference.
Pat has worked on rights based issues since becoming reliant on a wheelchair in 1970. She has taken a leadership role with the Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD). She represents the Disability Alliance BC on CCD’s board and is the First Vice-Chair. She also co-chairs CCD’s Transportation Committee and is a member of its Human Rights Committee.
She is a founding mother of the Disabled Women’s Network [DAWN]. Pat’s career includes work for provincial and federal governments, Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission, as well as the Canadian Labour Congress. Her varied background includes the Saskatchewan Public Service Commission Board of Commissioners, Regina Health District Board and CUPE National’s Disability Working Group. She has specialist knowledge of rights and disability issues, policies and programs.
Pat currently serves on a variety of committees including:
Pat recognizes that volunteer work is essential in making a difference in the lives of people living with disabilities.
Lucy is self-employed as a payroll administrator and bookkeeper. Residing in North Vancouver, she has over 25 years of volunteerism and participated on various committee and boards including the North Shore Disability Resource Centre, InterFit, and a committee on affordable housing. Lucy is very involved in her church community and enjoys outdoor recreation, writing, and exploring new ideas and possibilities.
Michelle Hewitt has a long history of volunteerism and advocacy. In 2008 she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of MS and has been in a wheelchair since 2009. Since then, she has turned her volunteerism and advocacy to disability issues, including being chair of her local MS Society chapter, a member of the MS Society of Canada BCY Division Government relations committee and a regional representative for Barrier Free BC. In Kelowna, Michelle has developed COHAC - the Central Okanagan HandyDART Action Committee - to work with the City of Kelowna on matters of accessible transportation.
Prior to her disability, Michelle was a principal in School District 23.
Michelle Hewitt lives in Kelowna, with her husband who is her full time carer and her two Bernese Mountain dogs.
Pam has served on a number of local municipality based committees, such as the City of North Vancouver’s Adaptable Design Working Group, SPARC BC’s Parking Placard Committee, the North Shore Coordinating Committee to End Violence Against Women in Relationships, and North Vancouver’s Social Planning Committee. She is currently a member of the City of North Vancouver Integrated Transportation Committee.
She is the past chair of TransLink’s Access Transit Users Advisory Committee.
She is currently on the board of DABC and on the HandyDART Users Network sponsored by DABC.
Elizabeth Lalonde, mother of two young sons, has extensive personal and professional experience in the field of blindness and disability issues. Ms. Lalonde, blind since birth, founded the Pacific Training Centre for the Blind - a grassroots, empowering organization that teaches blind people independence skills- run entirely by blind people; she is now the director of this Centre.
In 2010, Elizabeth completed a nine-month intensive blindness emersion training program including Braille, travel with the long white cane, adaptive technology, industrial arts, cooking and other life skills at the Louisiana Center for the Blind in Ruston, Louisiana. This training center is world-renown for its positive approach to blindness; its problem-solving, or structured discovery teaching method; and its promotion of complete independence for blind people.
Elizabeth served as president of the Canadian Federation of the Blind for nine years and has been an advocate and mentor in the blindness and disability communities for over 25 years. She completed a course called EntreActive, a self-employment program for persons with disabilities run through Business Victoria, and taught grant-writing for this organization.
She served as president of the Society for Students with a Disability for three years, where she organized several awareness and advocacy-related events and activities.
She earned a BA in journalism and anthropology from the University of Victoria and worked for several years as a communications coordinator for the Province of British Columbia.
Elizabeth has a positive, can-do attitude and strongly believes in the importance of promoting a positive approach to disability and the abilities of all people with disabilities.
Chris has an extensive background working with and for the disability community. He is currently the Chair of the Cowichan Valley Resource Centre for the Disabled and is involved with training and supervising programs designed to prepare people with disabilities for the labour market.
Chris was very involved in a program designed to teach sailing to people with disabilities; the program had sailboats rigged with assistive equipment. Under the Disability Resource Centre’s umbrella, Chris formed a recreation program that provides land and sea opportunities. The land program provides trailriders that help people with disabilities explore the wilderness.
Chris was instrumental in setting up a “Loan Cupboard” five years ago to provide all types of medical equipment for those unable to purchase equipment on their own.
Chris has been the Chair of Cowichan Independent Living for nine years and the Spinal Cord Chapter Head for the past eight years. He organizes an annual golf tournament for Spinal Cord Research, and leads a monthly coffee clutch to support and advise people with disabilities. Chris graduated from the University of Manitoba in 1993 with a Bachelor of Arts. He majored in Political Studies and Geography.
Terry is 62 years old and legally blind. He is currently updating his old house in Prince George. He continues to advocate and participate in numerous community non-profit groups that deal with disability issues. His past year’s activities are listed below:
Jill Stainsby has been involved with mental health services since age 5 when her mother was diagnosed with a mental illness, and she was herself similarly diagnosed in her early twenties. After completing a Masters at SFU in Women's Studies she was employed by Riverview Hospital for five years and then by the Vancouver Community Mental Health Services for six years. She was the recipient of the 2003 Courage to Come Back Award for Mental Health from Coast Foundation.
In the spring of 2006, Jill completed a Masters of Social Work Degree at UBC and then briefly taught in the Thompson Rivers University Human Services Program in Lillooet, followed by terms in Prince Rupert, Abbotsford and Chilliwack. She is now on leave from the Fraser Health Authority and is living in Lillooet where she volunteers with the local Friendship Centre. She has built a cabin there over the last three years, and is settling into it happily.
Jill has enjoyed being a member of the DABC Board and working with DABC's staff, volunteers, membership and other community activists, and hopes to continue to do this.
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