LOADING...

Posts Tagged "Woman"

15Oct

North Vancouver woman says some disabled Canadians feeling left out of discussion during election campaign

by admin

Amy Amantea tuned in to the English-language federal leaders’ debate with modest hope there would be at least some discussion of issues relevant to disabled Canadians.

The first half of the campaign had passed with barely a reference, even from the party that had delivered a historic achievement in national disability policy. Earlier this year, the Liberals made good on a 2015 campaign promise when the Accessible Canada Act received royal assent, marking the first time any government had enacted accessibility legislation at the federal level.

The government estimates one in five Canadians over the age of 15 is disabled, and Amantea, who is legally blind, hoped leaders would use the Oct. 7 debate to address some of the many issues they face. But those hopes faded as the debate progressed, giving way instead to doubts about how Canada’s disabled residents would fare after the Oct. 21 election.

“We have a lot of very unique needs and circumstances in our community that don’t get addressed,” Amantea said in a telephone interview from Vancouver. “Just a nod, just a mention would have been kind of nice, but it was not to be.”

Amantea said that relative silence has persisted into the final week of the campaign, giving rise to concerns throughout Canada’s disabled community. Many fear that parties who fail to make mention of key issues facing disabled Canadians while courting votes may prove even more dismissive once those votes have been cast.

They point to party platforms and public pledges, most of which make scant mention of either the Accessible Canada Act or disability-specific measures on issues such as infrastructure, health and affordable housing.

The Liberals response to questions on disability policy largely focused on past achievements. Spokesman Joe Pickerill did offer some future plans, including doubling the disability child benefit, establishing a $40-million-per-year national fund meant to help disabled Canadians find work, and simplifying the process veterans use to access disability benefits.

The Green party did not respond to request for comment, and the People’s Party of Canada said its platform contained “no policy related to disabled persons.”

The NDP did not provide comment to The Canadian Press, but made several commitments to strengthen the Accessible Canada Act in a letter sent to an Ontario-based disability advocacy group.

The act, while widely acknowledged as a significant milestone, was also broadly criticized by nearly a hundred grass-roots organizations across the country as too weak to be truly effective. Such critiques continued even after the government agreed to adopt some Senate amendments sought by the disability groups, who hoped future governments would continue to build on the new law.

Only the NDP agreed to do so when approached by the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, which contacted all major parties in July.

“The Liberals hailed this bill as a historical piece of legislation. But without substantial amendments, it is yet another in a long line of Liberal half-measures,” reads the NDP’s response. “New Democrats are committed to ensuring that C-81 actually lives up to Liberal party rhetoric.”

The Conservatives, too, pledged to “work closely with the disability community to ensure that our laws reflect their lived realities.” Spokesman Simon Jefferies also noted party members pushed to strengthen the act but saw their amendments voted down by the government.

The vagueness of these commitments troubles Gabrielle Peters, a wheelchair-user and writer.

“Canada’s approach to accessibility has been to grant it as a gift they give us rather than a right we deserve,” Peters said. “Now that we have the ACA, the concern is that the broader public and the government think the issue is resolved when this law is, at best, a beginning.”

Other disabled voters expressed concerns about the handful of relevant promises that have been put forward on the campaign trail. In addition to pledging expanded eligibility for the disability tax credit, the Conservatives have said they would implement a $50-million national autism strategy focusing on research and services for children. The NDP and Greens have followed suit with similar proposals and larger pots of cash.

While widely lauded among parent-led advocacy groups, some autistic adults view the proposals with skepticism.

Alex Haagaard, who is autistic and uses a wheelchair, said that while much modern disability policy including the ACA tends to apply a social lens, discussion of autism is still framed through the outmoded medical model that positions the disability as an ailment to be cured rather than a part of a person’s identity.

Haagaard said action is clearly needed to help parents seeking supports for their children and teachers working to integrate autistic students into their classrooms, but said current attitudes at the heart of the campaign rhetoric are troubling.

A national strategy, Haagaard said, also risks undermining the goal of broader inclusion for other disabled populations.

“That is counter to the goals of disability justice to silo autism as this individual condition that warrants this level of attention compared to other disabilities,” Haagaard said.

Like Amantea, Peters felt let down by the leaders debates, citing the prevalence of discussion around medical assistance in dying over other issues that affect disabled people. The subject is polarizing, with many advocacy groups and individuals asserting such legislation devalues the lives of disabled people and places them at greater risk.

Such a narrow focus, Peters said, shows all parties’ failure to reckon with or address the diverse, complex needs of an overlooked demographic.

“What strikes me as missing in policy and in this election is us,” she said. “Disabled people. The not inspirational, not motivational, not middle class, not white, disabled people of this country. In other words — most of us.”

2Oct

Adaptability key to woman with cerebral palsy’s success as a structural engineer | CBC News

by admin

When Julia Halipchuk walks onto a construction site, it’s clear she’s one of the people in charge.

With a hardhat atop her head and an IPad showing construction designs in-hand, she surveys the day’s work.

But she wasn’t always that confident on a construction site. When she first began her job hunt as a structural design engineer, she searched for one based predominantly in an office.

Halipchuk has cerebral palsy, a breakdown in the neural pathways that can affect speech and movement. In Halipchuk’s case, it affects the right side of her body; she doesn’t have proper use of her hand and walks with a limp.

Because of her condition, she wasn’t sure she could fulfil the responsibilities required of an on-site engineer.

“It probably was rooted in a little bit of fear or cautiousness to make sure that I’m not putting myself out for rejection,” said Halipchuk from inside a gutted St. Andrew’s-Wesley United church in downtown Vancouver — her latest project where she’s the lead design engineer.

Julia Halipchuk’s current project is the structural restoration of St. Andrew’s-Wesley United church in downtown Vancouver. (Don Marce/CBC)

Yet despite her fear, she kept getting hired for jobs that required her to be on site.

And through her work, Halipchuk has learned the importance of identifying both her limitations and capabilities and effectively communicating what they are to her superiors.

In Canada, the employment rate for people with disabilities varies depending on the severity of the condition. While 76 per cent of people with mild disabilities are employed, that figure drops to 31 per cent if the disability is severe, according to Statistics Canada’s most recent numbers.

Adapting at work

Structural engineers are responsible for designing the bones of the building that eventually create the shape of the structure.

Half of Halipchuk’s work is spent in the office creating the construction designs; the other half is spent on site supervising the construction. 

However, working on site presents several challenges for Halipchuk, chief among them ladders.

“That’s probably my biggest weakness,” she said, due to the fact she isn’t able to maintain a proper three-point contact with her cerebral palsy.

To deal with this challenge, she had to find a way to adapt.

“As long as it’s not a tall vertical ladder, I’ve managed to find a way to climb it in a way I know I feel safe,” said Halipchuk.

Julia Halipchuk admits ladders present one of her biggest challenges on a construction, but says she has adapted how she climbs them. (Don Marce/CBC)

When on a ladder, Halipchuk will use her right arm to hook onto a ladder rung and stabilize herself. And when the ladder is too high and vertical, she says she will often swap duties with a colleague, allowing her to focus on groundwork.

Clear communication

 “It’s actually been quite easy to adapt to it,” said Hardeep Gill, Halipchuk’s supervisor at Read Jones Christoffersen Ltd.

He says working with Halipchuk hasn’t been any different than working with any other colleagues who might have limitations due to their stature or because of a fear of heights.

Gill says she’s always been clear about what her restrictions are.

“If you have that open conversation with someone, there’s a very high chance that [the company] will accommodate that,” he said.

“Something that you have in your mind might not even be that big of a deal [for the company].”

Julia Halipchuk works alongside her supervisor, Hardeep Gill, while on site at a structural restoration of St. Andrew’s-Wesley United church in Vancouver. (Don Marce/CBC)

Halipchuk knows deciding what career to pursue when you have a disability is difficult, but — based on her experience — she says start with some aspect of life you find interesting.

“You will find people and companies that will make a place for you in their workforce,” she said.

31Aug

Woman refuses to burn out her torch as she marks Overdose Awareness Day, crisis

by admin


Tabitha Montgomery with free materials she’s distributing to B.C. libraries.


Francis Georgian / Postmedia News

It was during the International Overdose Awareness Day activities last year when Tabitha Montgomery really noticed it — events that had once been rallies had become vigils.

“There was a feeling that no one was listening. That it was not making a difference,” she recalled Saturday as she set up an information booth at the Vancouver Public Library.

Montgomery’s booth was one of several awareness activities happening in B.C. this weekend to mark International Overdose Awareness Day, a global movement designed to remember those who have died from drug overdoses. And to push for change.

However, some advocacy groups that organized activities in the past were noticeably absent from this year’s list of planned events.

Montgomery attributed that to burnout.

“It can be difficult to keep going,” she said. “I want to thank those who have been paving the path for so long.”

Montgomery’s father, her best friend and her daughter’s father all died from drugs. She believes the only way to end the overdose crisis is to remove the stigma and judgment around drug use and addiction and bring the issue fully into mainstream health care.

“This is a torch in my heart,” she said.

While she doesn’t represent any single group, the former director with From Grief to Action has had success asking B.C. libraries to display free books on grief and addiction in their community resources sections. She’s hoping to get the material into more libraries in the months ahead.

(Postmedia News photo by Francis Georgian)

In a statement, B.C. Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Judy Darcy recognized those who have died are “parents, children, co-workers, neighbours, partners, friends and loved ones.”

The politician said the B.C. Centre for Disease Control estimates 4,700 deaths have been averted by scaled-up distribution of Naloxone, more overdose prevention sites and better access to medication-assisted treatment, known as opioid agonist treatment.

“We have a responsibility to each other, our communities and the loved ones we have lost to keep compassion, respect and understanding at the forefront of our minds — and to continue to escalate our response,” she said.

In June, 73 people died of suspected illicit drug overdoses across the province, a 35 per cent drop from June 2018 when 113 people died, according to data collected by the B.C. Coroner’s Service.

But Montgomery said addiction is still treated like a “moral and criminal issue,” rather than a health issue.

“There’s so much misunderstanding,” she said.

Overdose awareness events were held around the world, including in many B.C. cities such as Vancouver, New Westminster, Kamloops, Kelowna, Powell River, Prince George and Quesnel.

In Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, the Overdose Prevention Society supported the creation of a mural in the alley near its injection site. The project wrapped up with an art show.

Related

[email protected]

twitter.com/glendaluymes

CLICK HERE to report a typo.

Is there more to this story? We’d like to hear from you about this or any other stories you think we should know about. Email [email protected]

30Aug

‘I am almost not a person’: ICBC denies photo ID to Richmond woman over middle initial | CBC News

by admin

Nyoka Campbell has been a Canadian citizen for more than a decade, but her ongoing struggle to secure a B.C. photo ID has left her feeling like an outsider.

The 29-year-old has spent much of her life on the move, immigrating to Canada from Jamaica when she was just a child. Now living in the Lower Mainland, she has two primary pieces of ID to her name: a Canadian passport and a B.C. services card without a photo.

The two cards would usually be enough for someone to qualify for a B.C. photo identification card. But a small discrepancy between her documents — her passport includes her middle initial, while her care card does not — has kept ICBC from issuing her a card.

ICBC is the provincial Crown corporation that insures cars and is also responsible for issuing B.C. ID cards.

“I feel like I am almost not a person because of the way they’ve treated me.” Campbell told CBC News from her Richmond home.

“I am Canadian, I am a citizen of the Province of British Columbia, and I feel that I am entitled to be able to identify myself,” she added.

ICBC confirmed with CBC News that the documents she’s provided are insufficient for a photo identification card.

“In this case, while we sympathize with Ms. Campbell, we’ve reviewed the provided documents and unfortunately, they do not meet the requirements,” spokesperson Lindsay Wilkins said in an e-mailed statement.

Campbell says she now needs to obtain a citizenship certificate in order to clear up her ID troubles, but she can’t afford it.

Nyoka Campbell says a small discrepancy between two government-issued IDs has kept ICBC from issuing her a photo ID card. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

A prolonged dispute

Campbell moved to Vancouver in 2015. She says she was issued a provincial care card which by default did not include her middle initial.

“I didn’t choose the way my name was presented on the [services card], it was just generated by Health Insurance B.C.” said Campbell.

She doesn’t have her Jamaican birth certificate, and her Canadian citizenship card was stolen along with her wallet several years ago.

When she sought out a photo ID from ICBC in 2016 using what documents she had left, she was denied by staff. She claims her account has been red flagged by staff as potentially fraudulent due to the discrepancy between her passport and services card.

She’s kept pursuing the ID ever since, providing the insurance provider with mail, her SIN card, her son’s birth certificate and bank statements, but says it hasn’t swayed ICBC’s position.

“We do look at customer’s situations on a case-by-case basis, but it is more difficult in cases where there isn’t a verified photo record in our database,” said ICBC’s spokesperson.

ICBC says it looks at customers’ situations on a case-by-case basis, but it is more difficult in cases when there isn’t a verified photo record in its database. (David Horemans/CBC)

Hard times

The Canadian government no longer issues citizenship cards, but Campbell has been advised to apply for a citizenship certificate — a commemorative slip of paper that doesn’t qualify as identification but would confirm her citizenship. She could use it at the ICBC office. It can take up to five months before a certificate arrives.

However, the document requires a primary piece of photo ID. The only photo ID Campbell has — her passport — is now expired. She says doesn’t have sufficient documents to renew it.

And even if she could, Campbell, a single mother living off disability payments, says she would have trouble finding the money — about $200 in total — to retrieve both documents.

“I get about $1,500 per month … [my rent is] $1,248 plus my utilities, plus my insurance — and I also have my eight year old,” said Campbell.

She wonders just how long it will be before she has an official photo ID to her name — a circumstance she says is particularly troubling because it prevents her from boarding an airplane. Her grandmother, who lives in Ontario, is struggling with kidney failure.

“At any moment I could need to go to Ontario, but I’m not able to,” she said.

18Jul

B.C. woman who lost son to skin cancer works to promote sunscreen stations

by admin

KELOWNA — A woman who lost her son to skin cancer three years ago is on a mission to introduce sunscreen stations at all beaches, parks and as many other public places in the Okanagan.

Karen Wells is founding director of Morgan’s Mole Patrol, a pending non-profit foundation she started in memory of her son Morgan, who died at age 33 in 2016 from melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer.

Wells said her objective is simple. She is working with the Vancouver-based national charity Save Your Skin Foundation and hopes to have portable sunscreen stations in as many public places as possible in the province.

As a pilot project this summer, Wells is working to introduce sunscreen stations at Gyro Beach, the Kelowna Golf and Country Club, and at Kelowna Visitor Centre.

Melanoma is one of the fastest growing cancers in North America, surpassing lung and breast cancer, and just one blistering sunburn in childhood or adolescence more than doubles the odds of developing the disease later in life, said Wells.

“We really need this for our children and future generations,” said Wells, who broke into tears several times while recalling her son’s death and telling of her efforts to help others and prevent them from having to endure the same heartbreak and pain.

Her son went from seemingly healthy to seriously ill in a matter of months, and it’s difficult to believe a small mole led to such tragic consequences.

“He had a mole on his back and went to his family doctor and the doctor said it looked benign,” she said. “It was frozen with liquid nitrogen and covered with a Band-Aid. He came home and high-fived me and said everything was fine.”

It wasn’t. He returned to the doctor several months later and discovered a cancerous melanoma had spread to many parts of his body.

He died several weeks later, leaving behind a wife and two young sons, one of whom was only six months old.

“He went back to the doctor and it was too late . . . it came back Stage 4,” Wells said. “That’s the thing with melanoma. If it’s not detected early enough, it has the chance to spread very quickly, and it did. That was in March, and we lost him in December.”

Only weeks before this incident, she noticed a mole on her own leg, went to a walk-in clinic, was diagnosed with a small tumour and had it removed weeks later in late 2015, she said.

Still reeling from Morgan’s death almost three years later, Wells said working to ensure others don’t suffer the same fate has “become my life’s mission. I’m trying to raise awareness.

“If I can just stop one family from going through what my family has been through, to spare them, then my mission will be complete.”

She started the Mole Patrol movement soon after her son was diagnosed, but has since added his name to the cause and is close to reaching non-profit status after teaming up with Save Your Skin Foundation.

“My goal is to try and educate people on how to play safe in the sun,” she said. “I’m not saying stay out of the sun as we obviously need the sun to heat the planet, grow food and sustain life, but you have to stay safe and be aware of how deadly the sun can be.

“Melanoma is a very survivable cancer, but only if you catch it early.”

Wells was shocked by how many adults weren’t using any sunscreen when she took a survey on July 1, a hot day.

“There were 380 people questioned and more than one-third admitted they did not wear sunscreen,” she said. “Many parents would walk by with their children and the kids were covered in sunscreen, but the parents were not. I couldn’t believe it.”

The best way she could think of helping others is to install as many sunscreen stations as possible in public places, she said.

The stations will be filled with lotion featuring sun protection factor 30.

“We’re trying to get these sunscreen stations at various locations across the city and we’re just working on the logistics right now,” she said.

Kelowna Golf Course management have agreed to install one, and she’s working with city staff to bring one to Gyro Beach and the Kelowna Visitor Centre on Aug. 1, she said. Management at the Kelowna Yacht Club have also shown support to have one installed outside their building.

If the pilot project is successful, the plan is to have dozens installed in Kelowna starting in 2020, and then work with other communities to generate interest and have them installed there and then across the province, she said.

“We will be collecting data in July, August and September and maybe October, depending on the weather,” she said. “We’re going to go back to all the municipalities in B.C. to try and get them on board. We’ll start with Vancouver. We want to get this provincewide, starting here in Kelowna.”

Wells got the idea from two families in Toronto who also lost sons to melanoma, and she was thrilled to hear Toronto will be installing another 50 sunscreen stations this summer.

“My goal, honestly, would be to have one on every corner if I could,” she said.

Countries such as Australia and New Zealand have been offering free sunscreen stations to residents for many years, and the time has come to do the same here in the Okanagan, said Wells.

Save Your Skin Foundation is financing this project by paying for the dispensers and sunscreen.

Wells said she also lost both her parents and older brother to cancer and is willing to do whatever it takes to help others.

“I’ve had enough with cancer,” she said.

CLICK HERE to report a typo.

Is there more to this story? We’d like to hear from you about this or any other stories you think we should know about. Email [email protected]


Source link

8Jul

Severely ill Galiano Island woman turned away from assisted living due to ‘unscheduled care needs’ | CBC News

by admin

Jemma Lee says she’s had problems with fatigue her entire life, but in the last decade migraines and frequent bouts of the flu have turned that fatigue into a new beast. 

The 52-year-old was diagnosed three years ago with extreme myalgic encephalomyelitis (M.E.), a neuroinflammatory disease known to many as chronic fatigue syndrome. It causes extreme tiredness and affects various body systems to the point where Lee says she is “unable to move.” 

Lee was shocked to learn recently that her four applications for assisted living in Victoria have been declined by the Vancouver Island Health Authority due to “unscheduled care needs.”

‘Prisoner in my own home’

“I was so incredulous,” said Lee, who lives alone in a 240-square-foot home on Galiano Island, where she’s forced to chop wood for warmth and doesn’t have access to filtered water.

“I’m a prisoner in my own home.”

Jemma Lee lives in a 240-square-foot home on Galiano Island where she says the health-care services are not advanced enough to support her. (Jemma Lee (Submitted))

After moving to Galiano in 2012, Lee said her symptoms worsened. Last year, she counted 140 days of seizures, which can affect various parts of her body, leaving her “unable to speak” for as long as 45 minutes, she says.

According the ME/FM Society of British Columbia, nearly 600,000 Canadian suffer from varying forms of the condition.

Galiano Island services not enough

Lee said she regularly sees a doctor and a community nurse, and receives online emotional counselling.

While she’s happy with the support she’s had, she said the services on Galiano are not advanced enough to help her as she deteriorates.

“Right now I rely on my friends to take me to my health appointments and it’s a minimum 12-hour day to … take the ferry and come back,” she said, adding that her appointments typically last no more than 40 minutes.

“[My friends] have to be able to cope with me if I have a seizure … and take responsibility for me.”

Lee suffers from frequent seizures that affect various part of her body as a result of extreme myalgic encephalomyelitis. (Jemma Lee (Submitted))

With low income and no family in B.C., she said only assisted living in Victoria can meet her needs and give her nearby access to specialized services like physiotherapy, occupational therapy, social workers, and acupuncture.

Peter Luckham, Chair of the Islands Trust, said Lee is “not alone” in her difficulty accessing assisted living as a Gulf Island resident, because the services are hard to come by. 

“At the end of the day, you end up leaving the islands” for more advanced services, he said.

Unpredictable health issues

Lee said Island Health doesn’t want someone with “unpredictable health issues,” as there are days where she could be walking relatively well, and others where she’s “seizuring on the floor.”

She recently wrote an open letter to Island Health, detailing her condition and imploring them to reconsider.

A statement from the authority says it is “aware of Ms. Lee’s concerns” and is “reviewing her application with her in order to provide the most appropriate care plan for her needs.”

Lee said that she and others with the disease are fighting for it to be recognized as a biological condition in the same way diseases like Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis are. The term chronic fatigue syndrome, used widely by medical professionals, reduces the legitimacy of the disease by making light of it, she said.

Not taken seriously

Dr. Mohamed Gheis, a neuropsychiatrist in Victoria who runs a rehabilitation program for people with neurological disorders, said M.E. patients are still “not very well understood” by Canadian health-care workers.

Right now, these patients are “not receiving the care they deserve as sources of disability,” he said.

Lee said she’s had doctors ask her to explain M.E. “When you go to the hospital, you’re having to advocate for yourself constantly,” she said.

Elizabeth Sanchez, the president of the ME/FM Society of B.C., said some M.E. patients have had doctors laugh at them or berate them, and some patients have committed suicide because “they just can’t bear their lives any longer.”

She said the society has been trying to get the province’s Ministry of Health to understand the severity of the disease, but it’s a slow, frustrating process.  

“They don’t understand that there is a crisis for M.E. patients,” she said. “But there is a light at the end of the tunnel … We just don’t know how long that tunnel is.”


Source link

28May

This B.C. woman lodged hundreds of 911 complaints about the homeless. Now she’s advocating for them | CBC Radio

by admin

A B.C. woman who spent nearly 15 years trying to bar the homeless from trespassing on her property is now advocating for them.

Between 2004 and 2018, Peggy Allen made approximately 500 calls to police about incidents involving people from the emergency shelter next door in Abbotsford, B.C.

“I became this crazy person that couldn’t function,” she told The Current.

During that time, Peggy and her husband, Ron Allen, recall numerous incidents they say are enough to “put fear into your hearts.”

One such affair saw Peggy chased through the house and off the balcony by a person who, she believed, was having a bad trip from an illicit drug. She fell backwards, landing on the ground that was 1.2 metres below, and injured her neck and back.

However, she had a revelatory moment in September 2018 when a woman walking up her driveway swore at her, she says.

“I looked at her and I just went crazy and I started running toward her. I was going to hurt her,” Allen recalled.

When The Current visited the Allens’ home, 14 tents were pitched on the shoulder of Gladys Avenue. (Submitted by Peggy Allen)

Then a “light switched” in her brain.

“I just stopped halfway down there and I said: ‘Peggy, I hate the way you are. This isn’t who you are,'” she said.

“I turned around, I went back to the house and I just bawled my head off.”

She describes the experience as an “incredible metamorphosis” in her life and is now giving back to the people who she once referred to as the source of her “nightmare.”

“I don’t expect anyone to jump on the bandwagon that lives around here because they’ve been through hell and they’ve had a lot of bad things happen. But I got to tell you that what I’m gaining from helping these people way outweighs what I lost.”

Dream house

The Allens and their two sons, who were 7 and 10 at the time, moved into their home on Gladys Avenue, near Highway 11 and S Fraser Way, in September 1989.

The lush, half-acre property was secluded, shrouded by a forest of towering cedars. The bungalow itself is removed from the road — separated by a long, 50-metre driveway — and the entire property backs onto a creek.

“It was the perfect life for us,” Peggy Allen recalled, an emotional tone hanging in her voice.

“Our kids could run free and we could have animals.”

Fifteen years later, the Salvation Army Centre for Hope moved into the space next door, and she says the family’s “life changed overnight.”

They tried to move, but couldn’t sell the house for the amount they paid.

Allen erected housing around her home to stop trespassers, who were living in tents near her home. (Submitted by Peggy Allen)

When nothing changed, she invested thousands of dollars to line the perimeter of the property with a chain-link fence topped with barbed wire — like something from a prison — and outfitted its exterior with a security camera system.

Yet the problems persisted.

“The point is it’s all little tiny stuff, but it’s huge,” Allen said of the emotional scars they had as a result of the encounters.

Housing affordability

In addition to serving as an emergency shelter, the Salvation Army delivers a litany of services — such as a meal centre, mental health supports and addiction counselling.

When The Current visited the Allens’ home, 14 tents were pitched on the shoulder of Gladys Avenue, occupied by people either accessing the facility’s wide range of services or transitioning out of it. Others were milling around the Allens’ property on their way to and from the shelter.

Residents in a homeless camp in Jubilee Park in 2013, a short distance away from Gladys Avenue where the Allens’ home is currently located. In 2015, a B.C. Supreme Court judge struck down Abbotsford bylaws that prohibited homeless people from erecting temporary shelters and sleeping in city parks. (CBC)

Homeless counts take place every year over a 24-hour period in Abbotsford.

Last year, volunteers identified 233 homeless people over the 24-hour survey period on March 19 and 20. The city report notes this is, at best, only an estimate, and does not capture every homeless person in the community.  

Of those surveyed by volunteers, 111 people were living on the street in tents or makeshift structures or sleeping in their cars/campers, instead of one of Abbotsford’s seven shelters.

The roadside near Allens’ home. People living in tents are trying to access services from the nearby Salvation Army. (Submitted by Peggy Allen)

Another 45 were couchsurfing, while 66 people used shelters.

The city report says the survey respondents cited a lack of affordable housing and the steep housing market as the top reasons they are homeless.

Giving back

Peggy Allen is in the process of modifying a shipping container into a bathroom with a sink to be placed at the entrance to her driveway.   

She also volunteers with Business Engagement Ambassador Project (BEAP) to try and shine a “whole different light” on homelessness.

The city-run outreach program, which was started by people with lived experience of homelessness or drug addiction, aims to repair frayed relationships between business owners and residents by paying them to clean up outside their properties.

Rob Larson works for BEAP. He used to live on the streets, and says his interactions with Allen have changed his life.

Allen’s driveway in Abbotsford, B.C. She said that it was chasing trespassers up this driveway that she experienced an ‘incredible metamorphosis.’ (Submitted by Peggy Allen)

“The way I look at it, if you give back a little bit to your community, they’ll give you back a whole armful of what you might need here, or just open arms, right?” he said.

The pair are now good friends, a reality Peggy said she never imagined during their first meeting.

He hugged me and he cared for me without even knowing me.– Peggy Allen

“He hugged me so hard the first time I met him, he scared the hell out of me,” she recalled.

“But I was the one with the fear, not him.

“He was the one with the love and that was one of the first steps for me to make a change in my thinking because he hugged me and he cared for me without even knowing me.”

When people ask what changed her perspective, she answers: “Nothing… I changed my mind.”

Click ‘listen’ near the top of this page to hear the full documentary.


Written by Amara McLaughlin, produced by Anne Penman and The Current’s Documentary editor Joan Webber.


Source link

11Mar

Meet the woman who designed one of Surrey’s most recognizable buildings

by admin

Surrey — Why We Live Here is a week-long series looking at the people and neighbourhoods that make up B.C.’s second largest city.

On the last Friday of every month, dozens of people visit the heart of Surrey’s Whalley neighbourhood for a perogy supper.

The food is prepared by members of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of St. Mary, which is one of the oldest and most spectacular buildings in the neighbourhood.

Bessie Bonar, 95, is a fixture at the event and she also attends church every Sunday.

“It’s part of my heart,” Bonar said.

“I’ve been going for 70 years, so I know all the beginnings and how hard we worked.”

Surrey’s Ukrainian population feels a close connection to the church, which has stood at the corner of 135A Street and 108 Avenue since 1955, but Bonar’s attachment to it is stronger than most.

Bonar, after all, was the one who designed it and her father was in charge of construction.

The church was designed in 1950 and construction was completed in 1955. (Jesse Johnston/CBC)

Untrained eye

In 1950, Whalley’s Ukrainian community rallied together to raise enough money to buy some land and build a church on it.

Bonar left school in Grade 8 and had no formal architectural training, but she had an eye for detail.

She found a picture of a church and used it as a guide to design the building that would become a Surrey landmark.

“They wanted to build a church and they asked for a blueprint, so I drew it on a piece of paper,” she said.

“I said, we had no blueprints, we just built it.”

Bonar and her husband lived in three different houses in Surrey after the church was built.

She designed all three of them.

“If I had been born later, I would have gone maybe to school for architecture but I was born too early,” she said.

“There was no chance for college then.”

Becky Takyi prepares a plate for a customer at Taste of Africa restaurant in Surrey (Martin Diotte/CBC)

Taste of Africa

As Bonar and her friends roll perogy dough at the church, another delicacy is prepared just down the street.

Becky Takyi is dishing up a generous helping of her specialty — honey jerk chicken with jollof rice and plantains — as her husband Isaac takes a phone order behind the counter.

The couple, originally from Ghana, opened the restaurant more than a decade ago.

“Working together makes the marriage work better because we fight and, at the same time, we get along,” Becky laughed.

“At the end of the day, who are you going to fight with? You’re going home together, so you have to be happy together, right?”

Isaac Kofi Takyi takes an order at his restaurant in the heart of Whalley (Martin Diotte/CBC)

Diverse clientele

The Takyis chose their location because they wanted their restaurant to be accessible to traffic coming into Surrey from the Pattullo or Port Mann Bridge.

Accessibility drew them to the neighbourhood but it’s Whalley’s diversity that keeps them there.

“It’s concentrated with different types of ethnic people and it makes it more broad based for us,” Isaac said.

“People from all different cultures come here now.”

The church is located at the corner of 135A Street and 108 Avenue in Surrey (Jesse Johnston/CBC)

‘The Strip’

St. Mary’s Church is on the corner of 135A Street and 108 Avenue, which is part of the city’s so-called strip, and Taste of Africa is just around the corner.

Until last year, about 170 people lived on the street in tents and hundreds more would often hang out in the area during the day.

The tents are now gone and the majority of the people who lived in them have either moved into modular housing or nearby shelters.

Isaac Takyi says customers used to tell him they were scared to come to the restaurant but he hasn’t heard any concerns lately.

“Five years ago, people were scared,” he said.

“Of late, they realize that there’s nothing to be scared of. The last four years, it’s been very good.”


Source link

9Mar

Woman assaulted after allowing stranger into home

by admin

A woman in North Vancouver reported being sexually assaulted after allowing a stranger to use a washroom in her home, according to RCMP.

North Vancouver RCMP said the alleged assault happened in the early afternoon of Feb. 27 in the Upper Capilano area.

Police said they have not received additional information that would  make them believe the public’s safety is at risk.

“Police wish to take this opportunity to remind people not to allow strangers into their homes,” said Sgt. Peter De Vries in a press release.

Police have released a composite sketch of the suspect and are asking anyone who can identify the man to contact them at 604-985-1311.


Source link

9Mar

‘A matter of life or death’: Woman with lung disease wins complaint over neighbour’s smoking

by admin

The secondhand smoke in Ruth Bowker’s new home was so pervasive, she was forced to spend most of her time hiding in her bedroom, the only room she described as “consistently livable.”

The Abbotsford senior has pulmonary fibrosis, a chronic and progressive lung disease, and when she first viewed the condo as a potential buyer in 2015, there was no smoke smell, according to a decision from the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal. But before she and her husband took possession of the suite that November, two habitual smokers had moved in downstairs.

This week, the tribunal ruled the strata had failed to accommodate Bowker’s disability, and ordered it to pay her $7,500 for injury to dignity, feelings and self-respect.

Bowker told the tribunal she was “horrified” to discover the smoke odour when she moved into her new place in the Clearbrook neighbourhood.

“Ms. Bowker began opening the patio doors even though it was late November, and purchased large fans to try to blow the smoke outside. She also bought two air purifiers. These measures were of little avail,” tribunal member Emily Ohler wrote.

Ohler said the condo complex’s strata “did very little” to help Bowker for a full year after she first complained about how the smoke was affecting her, and her health deteriorated during that time.

The lack of action from the strata, “prevented her from enjoying a regular existence within the confines of her home; it exacerbated her disability; it had a negative impact on her mental state; and it added to her already heavy mental load during a time she was dealing with her husband’s deteriorating health,” Ohler wrote.

‘But a person’s home is their castle’ 

The tribunal’s ruling provides an interesting discussion of how to balance individual property rights with the responsibility to accommodate a disability, and the need for strata councils to educate themselves on human rights law.

Bowker’s lawyer, Jonathan Blair, said the decision clarifies the legal obligations of strata councils, which tend to be made up of volunteers with little working knowledge of property law.

“It’s not necessarily legitimate for us to hold on to this sense of, ‘But a person’s home is their castle,’ as a defence against accommodating someone who’s facing a barrier. In the end, sometimes we have to give up … certain freedoms,” Blair said.

As Ohler points out, many cities and strata already place numerous legal limits on what people can do inside their own homes, including noise bylaws and rules against pets.

Bowker’s neighbour was defensive when she complained about the smoke, according to the decision. (Google Maps)

According to the decision, Bowker spoke to her neighbour, identified by the initials LR, shortly after she moved in. But the woman and her husband were defensive and Bowker wrote to the strata to complain on Dec. 15, 2015.

In turn, the strata wrote to LR and said any measures to minimize the smoke coming from her condo “would be greatly appreciated.” It also ensured some physical work was done on the two units in an attempt to contain the fumes.

But these steps did not stop the smoke from entering Bowker’s apartment, the decision says.

By the end of 2016, Bowker was still asking the strata for a solution, but the situation was getting dire. A doctor’s note submitted to the tribunal showed that she was beginning to have suicidal thoughts.

“She said, among other things, that her recent pulmonary function test showed a noticeable deterioration. ‘This is a matter of life or death for me, literally,’ she said,” Ohler wrote.

The strata sent a cease and desist letter to LR and her husband in December 2016, to no effect. A month later, the council threatened to fine her under a nuisance bylaw, but LR replied with a letter pointing out that her nicotine addiction was also a disability that could be protected under the Human Rights Code.

2 failed votes for non-smoking bylaw

According to the decision, the strata council brought a non-smoking bylaw to a vote at two annual general meetings in response to Bowker’s complaints. Both times, it didn’t garner the necessary 75 per cent of votes to pass.

But Ohler said the council did not properly explain to strata members why the bylaw was being proposed.

“It appeared to see the non‐smoking bylaw as a kind of lifestyle choice rather than as a part of its efforts to meet its legal responsibilities. At least in part, the result was that Ms. Bowker was subjected to inappropriate remarks and made to feel ostracized from the community,” Ohler said.

The strata held two votes on a proposed no-smoking bylaw, but both failed. (Sebastien Bozon/Getty Images)

She ordered the strata to stop discriminating against Bowker, but held off on ordering it to enact a non-smoking bylaw. That’s because the strata is waiting for a decision from the Civil Resolution Tribunal on whether LR violated the nuisance bylaw.

Ohler said Bowker and the strata could return to the tribunal if the CRT does not resolve the matter.

And Ohler added that while LR would likely have an argument that her nicotine addiction is protected as a disability, her rights would have to be balanced with Bowker’s if the question came before the tribunal.

“While a person addicted to nicotine may be able to go outside of their unit to smoke, a person with a smoke‐sensitive disability cannot be expected to go outside to safely breathe,” Ohler wrote.


Source link

This website uses cookies and asks your personal data to enhance your browsing experience.