WHAT WE NEED NOW – A PLACE CALLED HOME by special guest blogger, Wendy Lill

Everybody needs a home!

Community Homes Action Group is a group of concerned citizens, health care professionals, parents and advocates who came together in the winter of 2010 to bring about action to deal with the deepening crisis in residential services for persons with developmental disabilities in Nova Scotia.  We need action now to increase the quantity, quality and range of residential options available for this vulnerable population.  We have offered to work with the provincial government to find solutions. Continue reading

Amazing Resiliency: CMHA Halifax- Dartmouth Branch

Ruth Rogers at the Sharing and Caring Social Club

The Canadian Mental Health Association Halifax- Dartmouth branch, with offices in theBloomfield Centre in Halifax, is like the Little Engine that Could… it just keeps chugging despite the precariousness of its modest funding . It’s also like the people it serves. Marg Murray, co-manager of the CMHA branch, comments on “the amazing resiliency I see every day … despite the adversity and struggles.”

Members and volunteers alike love the CMHA in HRM for the spunky, compassionate, friendly place it is. Ruth Rogers has been a member for 28 years, and over the decades she has given back to the organization as a volunteer for the organization, serving as a board member, and founder of a weekly women’s group.  She’s also a regular at the Sharing and Caring social club, one of the CMHA branch’s longstanding social support programs for adults living with serious mental illness that offers social activities in a fun and supportive environment. “I give the CMHA, Sharing and Caring Club, 100%,” she says. “They have helped me to grow.”  It also helps feed its members, many of whom are on fixed incomes. “Right now I organize the meals,” Rogers says, between a game of crib and posing for a picture at one of the bright and cheery club’s many tables. Continue reading

A week in the life of ILNS

Matthew Spurway speakng at the2012 ILNS AG

Last week was a big week at ILNS- we celebrated our 20th birthday and launched our It Makes Cents campaign at our Annual General Meeting at the Bloomfield Centre on June 19.   Actor and broadcaster Charles Hsuen , ably MCe’d the evening and chaired the business meeting. Matthew Spurway, who works with NDP MP Robert Chisholm and is a father of three daughters with autism spectrum disorder, gave an inspired talk about how society will benefit from learning to value and include people with disabilities.  During the café style conversation, attendees discussed ways that they might contribute to the sustainability of ILNS. As a result, several participants agreed to be first voice contacts willing to speak to the media about disability related issues.  The highlight of the evening may well have been the pizza and the birthday cake, but for ILNS the valuable input of everyone in attendance as far as ideas, penny donations, and concern for and commitment to the organization were highly appreciated!

at the town hall meeting on accessibility!

On June 20, a town hall meeting on the accessibility of HRM facilities and infrastructure, chaired by District 10 Councillor Mary Wile brought together the HRM Accessibility Advisory Committee, HRM staff and many members of the disability community to talk about accessibility issues with HRM services, buildings, and programs. There was a sharing of information about what’s new regarding the accessibility of HRM infrastructure and facilities (such as that the Access-a-bus will now take riders to the airport) and concerns from persons with disabilities about specific issues (such as the physical inaccessibility of the Khyber building and the lack of bus stop announcements on Metro Transit). Concerns about accessibility may be addressed to the Accessibility Advisory Committee through the city clerk, but it was agreed at the meeting that the call centre reached by the general information number for the city will be instructed to forward accessibility concerns to the committee in the future. Councillor Watts of District 14 Indicated that a major planning exercise for HRM central (Halifax peninsula and Dartmouth) is beginning and will include the re-evaluation and changing of municipal zoning for the region. She encouraged people with disabilities and organizations that serve them to have their say!

Finally, ILNS says good-bye today to Harriet Johnston, who has been working at ILNS updating a directory on services and programs for aging Nova Scotians with a disability, as well as pitching in on reception and Information and Referral duties. We’ll miss your extreme competency and sensitivity to the needs of the organization and its consumers! As well as your all-round niceness.

ILNS 20th anniversary poster which will be gradually filled in with the blues of the ILNS logo to track the amount of donations received during our It Makes Cents fundraising campaign.

Louise Gillis- Eyes Wide Open

Louise at the unveiling of the new polymer bills last Fall in Ottawa. CCB worked with the Bank of Canada on their design.

( this is a repost because I am not sure people saw it the first time around… ILNS AGM today! Banners and pizza and pennies, oh my!)

Louise Gillis of Sydney, Cape Breton, may be retired, but that doesn’t mean she’s stopped working. As National President of the Canadian Council of the Blind, she’s often on the go seven days a week… but she still has time to volunteer on the board of Independent Living Nova Scotia and is a member of the Society for the Improvement of Accessible Transportation Cape Breton. She also curls, as skip of the Nova Scotia’s first vision impaired curling team, which she founded five years ago.

A polio and post-polio syndrome survivor, Louise never used to identify as a person with a disability because that was not the way others saw her.  Continue reading

Access Awareness Week Mel Hebb awards and scholarship winners!

Renee Forrestall of Team Possibles with friends and supporters after she received the Mel Hebb Hourglass Action Award for Access during Nova Scotia Access Awareness Week. L to R: Allison Brewer, Renee Forrestall, Marie Webb, Department of Community Services Minister Denise Peterson-Rafuse, Will Brewer, Sherry Costa (Chair of PAANS committee), Alison Murphy and Kim Cicchino (PAANS Coordinator).Mel Hebb Awards and PAANS scholarship winners

Congratulations to the winners of this year’s Mel Hebb Hourglass Actions Awards 2012 and PAANS Scholarships!

From the PAANS website…

PAANS would like you to help us recognize people in your community who have made a contribution to the inclusion of persons with disabilities in our province by submitting your nominations for the Mel Hebb Hour Glass Action Awards. The Hourglass Action Awards were launched in 1992 during National Access Awareness Week. That year, an hourglass symbolized the spirit of timely action the awards recognize.

In 2000, the name of the Award was changed to the Mel Hebb Hourglass Action Awards in honour of Mr. Melbourne Hebb, a former awards committee chair. Hebb, who passed away in October 1999, was the personification of dedicated action.


Exceptional Service Award

– Red Cap Restaurant Female Bantam “A” Hockey Team

Encore Award

– Rilla McLean

Community Action Award

– The Club

Access Award

– Renee Forrestall

Andre McConnell Award

– Ronnie LeBlanc

L to R; PAANS Scholarship Sponsors represented by Simon Hurd, RBC; Nathan Ward, CIBC; Gord Brost, Scotiabank; Bruce Smith, Scotiabank; John Fraser, Eastern turf; Cathy Doig, TD Bank; Karen Evans, TD Bank; Leigh Derry, BellAliant ( front in chair)

2012 PAANS Scholarships

 The PAANS scholarship program was developed to provide financial support to students with disabilities pursuing education and training in an accredited post-secondary institution. These awards are presented in recognition of the accomplishments students have already made and in support of their goals to be fully contributing members of society.


Scholarship Awards 2012

RBC Scholarship Award Recipients Richard PorterMichelle PeggBrianne WashburnTaylor White – Cape Breton
Scotiabank Scholarship Award Recipients Jessica KeefeMary RoopZachary MacNeil – Cape Breton
TD Scholarship Award Recipients Nikolas HarrisHolly Mathias
Casino Nova Scotia Scholarship Award Recipient Leslie Borden
Casino Sydney Scholarship Award Recipient Melanie Denny – Cape Breton
Bell Aliant Scholarship Award Recipient Gavin Fraser
CIBC Scholarship Award Recipient MacKenzie Field
Eastern Turf Scholarship Award Recipient Madison Somers


Art of Disability

Will Brewer and Anna Quon at the NS Access Awareness Week breakfast!

During Nova Scotia Access Awareness Week, I was asked to give a very short talk on this year’s theme, “The art of disability”. Because I am a writer, and think of myself as an artist, I accepted. Because I am a person with a disability first, I decided that I would elaborate in the ILNS blog on the creativity, ingenuity, and balance it takes to live with a disability… in short, about the art of living with a disability.

I have a mental illness characterized by depression and psychosis. When I am well, I am very, very well. I work, see friends, enjoy my life. But it takes some doing. I have to take my meds; get plenty of sleep, healthy food, downtime, and exercise; say nice things to myself, avoid dwelling on the negative, and keep stress to a minimum.  Sometimes it feels like I am taking care of a newborn baby, with its voracious needs and schedules and appetites, and sometimes it’s not much fun.

For a lot of people with disabilities, life is a bit of a juggling act. Trying to coordinate their attendant care with getting to and from appointments, finding or inventing technological aids and devices that will enable them to work and volunteer, and just getting dressed and breakfasted, can take a lot of time, energy and creativity every day. Not to mention advocating for one’s rights to have the opportunity to fully participate in society. Or finding a lousy parking spot.

What I’m trying to say is that some very basic things need to happen for a people like me and those with other disabilities to function on a day to day basis.  We have to work within certain prescribed limitations, and often push the boundaries to see what we can get away with without making a mess of our lives ( for example, can I stay up one more hour without waking up depressed tomorrow? Can I use this little bit of extra energy or do I need to save it for my doctor’s appointment, or for eating supper?) We have to think ahead, and plan.  We need to work with the materials at hand or source, purchase, or invent those particular things we need to create the thing we want . We need to listen to our instincts, go with the flow and have to have the courage to be different.

Artists have to do these things too, when they are making art.  They are making something out of nothing, after all. Pulling something alive from their imagination, which can be a womb or a plane crash.  When you live with a disability you are always inventing a new way of doing something. I know I am growing in health when I am able to think and feel in a new way, see in a new way.  And that’s what art is to me… a new way of looking at the same old thing. Living with a disability often requires the same kind of glasses.

Nova Scotia Access Awareness Week starts today!

In 1987, Rick Hansen’s Man in Motion Tour shone a spotlight on issues of ability and access and kick-started National Access Awareness Week.  Though the national scope of the week was short-lived, Nova Scotia continues to recognize and celebrate achievements made both by and for persons with disabilities in the areas of accessibility, transportation, housing, employment, recreation, education and communication.

Nova Scotia Access Awareness Week is traditionally celebrated each year during the first week of June. This year it will run from May 27th to June 2nd. Continue reading

Defeat Depression

The Defeat Depression campaign is a national campaign that aims to combat the stigma associated with depression and other mood disorders, as well as to raise money for local charities and the Mood Disorders Society of Canada.

.This Sunday, May 27 in Nova Scotia, Defeat Depression walks will be held in Annapolis County, Halifax and Truro.  Come out and “move for mental Illness!”

Thoughts After a Suicide

Someone I used to know died by suicide a month ago. She was just my age, had a mental illness and a sweet and sunny personality that, despite the ending of our friendship, I knew must have endeared her to pretty much everyone she met.  In the past  few years, I’d bump into her now and again… she looked well, said she’d had a hard couple years but things were better, seemed to be trying to reach out to me, even though I knew I’d hurt her feelings. And then she was gone, and I heard about her long stay in the mental hospital and the downward spiral her life had taken after that, when she moved to an area where drugs were everywhere. Continue reading

Mental Health Week events in HRM and Truro

“Mental Health for All”

Mental Health Week: May 7-13, 2012

Mental Health Week is an annual national event that encourages people to learn, talk, reflect and engage with others on all issues relating to mental health.

Events in the Halifax area

The SSNS’s 4th Annual Road to Recovery Walk

May 5th, 12:00 noon

Due to unforeseen circumstances, the venue for the Road to Recovery Walk being held this Saturday, May 5th, beginning at 12:00 noon, has been changed from the Olympic Community Centre to:

Saint Antonios Church Hall (formerly St. Matthias Church Hall), 6141 Chebucto Road, Halifax, Nova Scotia

Saint Antonios Church Hall is located on Chebucto Road very near the corner of Chebucto Road and Windsor Street.  The hall is best identified by the Tae Kwon Do sign over the basement entrance.  The Road to Recovery Walk will be utilizing the upstairs hall.  http://ssnsc.blogspot.ca/

There is no parking at the church hall so it is best to park on the residential streets nearby. Continue reading