This year’s conference occurred May 29 and 30 at the Sandman Hotel in Lethbridge, focusing on Weaving Your Own Path. For SRSAN members, this topic is extremely important.
“For most self-advocates, weaving your own path is important because [people with disabilities] often don’t get to make decisions,” says Ben Rowley, member of the conference planning committee. “A lot of people with disabilities are sheltered so it’s hard to learn and grow. This is about showing people that they can achieve their dreams, even though it might take a little
longer to get there.”
But, the conference wasn’t just for those with disabilities! There was something for everyone! The conference provided 140 participants with the tools to begin weaving their own path; several speakers shared thoughts on various topics including:
- What it means to belong
- Personal power and telling your own truth
- Finding employment
- Independence vs. interdependence….
- Dave Hingsburger
Several self-advocate speakers also shared inspiring stories and tips.
SRSAN was also fortunate enough to strengthen its continued relationship with Indigenous people, by having dancers and drummers provide a world class performance during the gala evening. Several people raved about the dancing, drumming and story telling. Participants were invited to join a round dance and those in in wheelchairs were included. Watching the mingling of cultures and people with disabilities was a true picture of community and what we are all striving for. We are grateful for the relationship that has been built over the last few years and that we continue to build. It has provided valuable insights into the Indigenous culture. We can’t thank them enough!
See photos of the gala evening below!
In 2002, SRSAN held its first conference, titled “Let’s Get Connected.” Advocates told us that holding a conference showed the community what they believed in and gave them the same learning opportunities as anyone else.
Since then, SRSAN has held 10 conferences, each with a different theme based on topics advocates want to learn about. Over the years, the conference’s structure has changed to meet growing interest and demand: the conference was expanded from one day to two, and, in the last seven years, attendance has increased from an average of 50 to 60 people to more than 100, as was the case during SRSAN’s last conference in 2015!
“The conference is a great way for self-advocates to come together and learn from each other,” say SRSAN members.