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Thank You for An Amazing 2018


It might be a one day commemoration (December 3) but International Day of Persons with Disabilities launched a full five days of advocacy and celebration for LiveWorkPlay members, staff, volunteers, and partners. The extra activity included the National Conference on Disability and Employment (December 4-5),  International Volunteer Day (December 6), a Developmental Services round table discussion with Lisa MacLeod Ontario Minister of Children, Community and Social Services (December 7) and finally our 20th annual holiday gathering, Festive Family Feast 2018 (see next story). What a week!

On December 3, Keenan Wellar and Tammy Whelan attended the Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL) 9th Annual Federal Policy Forum on Inclusion, where they found family members David Keay and Helen Ries on hand to share in the experience. The forum explored issues around the measurement of inclusion, and featured a panel discussion about the rollout of Canada’s affordable housing program via the National Housing Strategy.

Keenan also had the opportunity to attend a gathering on Parliament Hill hosted by The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility, where she announced that Canada was acceding to the Optional Protocol of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

At the policy forum, delegates challenged Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s Janet Kreda and the rest of the panel about the importance of setting guidelines to prevent projects that result in unnatural congregation and segregation of people with intellectual disabilities.

“We’ve seen recent projects [completed and in progress] in Toronto and Ottawa with extremely unnatural concentrations of people with intellectual disabilities in the same building” Keenan noted. “Historically, federal funding guidelines for housing projects have been focused on land and money, with not enough consideration for values and best practices.

Constructing new buildings intended for populations that are not appropriately diverse means we are investing in decades of exclusion to follow. It will be an embarrassing and harmful legacy for all Canadian citizens, and as CACL has noted, current guidelines just don’t address the issue with any meaningful clarity.

Asked how to figure out what is “appropriate” Keenan didn’t hesitate: “Statistics Canada just came out with the best data we’ve had in years about people with disabilities in Canada. If about 20% of all Canadians have a disability of some kind, and only 1% have an intellectual disability, it’s pretty obvious that buildings with more than 20% people with intellectual disabilities are being grossly overpopulated to an extent that is reminiscent of our shameful institutional past.

Jen and Sean on the panel

For the next two days Jen Soucy represented at the National Conference on Disability and Employment, including a panel with Jen that featured leading supported employment organizations who shared successful strategies and practices for inclusive employment outcomes. LiveWorkPlay also scheduled a dinner conversation with leaders from Calgary Alternative Support Services and Gateway Association (Edmonton) attended by Jen, Keenan, Julie Kingstone, and Anna Nelson.

“The conversations with Sahana [Parameswara], Renate [Burwash] and Sean [McEwen] were invaluable” said Anna. “Our employment team is currently making some changes to increase our value to employers in supporting inclusive workplaces, and CASS and Gateway are already very invested in that approach.”

On Friday Minister MacLeod hosted a round table discussion at Algonquin College with a dozen Developmental Services representatives from the Eastern Region, with Keenan attending for LiveWorkPlay. One of the issues that generated significant input was that of sheltered workshops (subminimum wage). All representatives at the table, including those who have yet to completely phase out their own sheltered workshops, want to see the labour code loophole closed forever, a position well represented by Autistics  For Autistics.

As requested, LiveWorkPlay has already provided supporting information to Minister MacLeod and MPP Jeremy Roberts, including the recent announcement from the State of Alaska, which has joined with other states and provinces that are bringing this archaic and harmful practice to an end.


Holiday celebrations are one of the oldest of all LiveWorkPlay traditions, starting with a December “family brunch” way back in 1998. Therefore, to make claims about the 2018 Festive Family Feast as one of the greatest of all time must be done with some caution. So let us say instead that thanks to the presence of so many young children and the size of the crowd, combined with some caroling, it was certainly one of the most memorable!

LiveWorkPlay family feasts (September, December, March) are not fundraisers, information sessions, or promotional events, they are old-fashioned community-building gatherings, where the agenda is to ensure newcomers feel welcomed and valued, and for those who already feel that way, to spread the joy to others!

While there’s no exit survey to prove it, from the buzz in the room and the happy faces (and how long everyone hung around way after the coffee went cold) we think it is safe to say “mission accomplished!”

Not everyone in the room knew Charlotte Savage or new her well, but it certainly felt like she was in the room, taking part in the laughter and smiles. Charlotte passed away on December 1st, and we are hopeful that the way we chose to remember her is just what she wanted. She was a fixture at family feast events for 20 years, and we know that her daughter Jenny and partner Dan will carry on the tradition. We can’t think of a better tribute to Charlotte than carrying on this tradition of laughter and love.

The happy news of the night was the announcement that Sebastian Hale has accepted a position with Health Canada! Sebastian will be leaving Milestone’s in Kanata, where he has been a dedicated employee for the past four years.

“It’s a pretty long bus ride from Sebastian’s home in the Lowertown area.” commented his father Peter. “But nothing could stop him from getting to work on time, every time.”

It will be a shorter trip to Health Canada and also an opportunity for a different type of work that Sebastian wants to try. “Thank you for sharing my news with everyone” said Sebastian. “I am really excited about this!”


For the second year in a row, an anonymous donor is contributing up to $10,000 to match your donations to LiveWorkPlay during the holiday season! The opportunity started on Giving Tuesday (November 27) and lasts until December 31, or until the entire $10,000 has been matched (we are about 50% there!). It’s incredibly easy: just go to our Canada Helps donation page, scroll down, choose the amount of your donation, select the “Donate to LiveWorkPlay Giving Tuesday 2018” and whatever amount you choose to donate,  it will be matched! More than 10% of all donations are made in the last week of the year, follow this link to find a guide to end of year giving (tax tips and more).


Our next event is the Celebration of Inclusion Family Feast on March 29, and then the big one: Make A Buzz Ottawa 2019 on May 9! This event always sells out, so if you would like to attend, ticket sales are already open and we recommend you purchase them before the end of December.


Tim Siebrasse and his third year work anniversary at Shopify has taken the internet by Storm! And with good reason.

It is said that “diversity” is to be “invited to the dance” whereas “inclusion” is “being asked to dance.” You can’t have inclusion without diversity, but how do you know when inclusion is really happening? Every situation is different, but Tim’s journey at Shopify offers plenty of insight into this important and intriguing questions!


Sometimes it is good to “get away” as a group, especially if you are at a crossroads and looking for new directions and ideas. This year’s board retreat on November 17 was all about knuckling down on the work of delivering on the Strategic Directions as presented to members at AGM 2018 back in June.

With this type of laser focus in mind, the board and co-leaders put on a pot of coffee (or three), met at the office on a Saturday, and spent the day with a quick review of progress to date.  Then they got to work on the Welcoming Communities and Strategic Partnerships streams, areas that were identified as the least developed to this point in the year. The board will have additional communications about their work early next year!


The importance of getting involved with housing organizations and issues (beyond housing that is specific to people with intellectual disabilities) was identified back in 2017, and LiveWorkPlay is definitely seeing progress, in terms of what we are learning, as well as our own contributions to issues of access, affordability, government policy and more!

Most recently, Allison Moores (our lead in this area, pictured in the photo with Grace Hudson) attended the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation National Housing Conference and benefited from a panel discussion about affordability. “This is really the key housing issue for almost all of our members,” says Allison. “Yes, most people with intellectual disabilities are facing some barriers with respect to their daily support needs, but that doesn’t even matter if they can’t afford a place to live. This is an issue that impacts thousands of individuals and families in Ottawa and we need to address it is a community, rather than as different silos of service organizations.”

The fall season offered an overwhelming variety of quality opportunities to engage in housing issues, including events hosted by the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness, the Ontario Non-Profit Housing Alliance, and the Canadian Housing and Renewal Association.


Volunteers are critically important to our efforts to support a more inclusive and welcoming Ottawa community, and our People Connector and Volunteer Coordinator Alex Darling is always looking to making improvements to how we invite and support volunteers. On October 24 she participated in an incredible international conference that was hosted in our area by Volunteer Management Professionals of Canada, joined by other local sites and accessible online from multiple locations.

“Essentially this experience confirmed what I already know – there is more that our volunteers can do and want to do – and I plan to take some of these ideas from the conference and make that a priority in 2019” says Alex.


Interest in the Just Enough Support series has exceeded all expectations, with more than 65,000 views of the original Facebook launch, more than 30,000 views of the trailer video, over 1,500 cumulative shares from where the videos and full transcripts are hosted on our website, and we are moving in on 6,000 cumulative views on our YouTube playlist. As intended, the series is drawing interest from individuals with disabilities and their family members, as well as from agencies and organizations: many are now using the series to train staff and volunteers! We have also taken the six principles and have created signage and postcards that we give out at information fairs and other events (see below).

We hope you have enjoyed this jam-packed edition of The LiveWorkPlay News. If you like what you see, why not make a donation? We’ve got a new and improved donation form that saves you time and gives you more options! If you are participating in Giving Tuesday, we’ve got that covered too!