Director of Inclusive Education
Thank you Karen!
Karen DeLong, our Director of Inclusive Education, is retiring and we want to say thank you! Thank you for doing such a terrific job at Inclusion BC! And for working so hard — and with so much passion — to help create where a world where everybody belongs!
Karen DeLong began her career as a Community Support Worker in Maple Ridge in 1994. Her work then branched into Family Support for the Ridge Meadows Association for Community Living providing one-to-one family support as well as organizing group information sharing events. Karen joined Inclusion BC in 2008 with a focus on Inclusive Education and Family Support. Three years later she took on the role as Director of Community Development and then Inclusion BC’s Director of Education. Her son, Angelo, has always been an inspiration for her work and commitment to community inclusion.
Thank you from Friends and Colleagues
We asked a few of Karen’s long-time friends and colleagues to share their thoughts about Karen
Wendy Langridge: Karen, We’re looking forward to celebrations
Joanne Gauthier: Karen, thank you for all you have done
Angela Clancy: Karen is a passionate, committed advocate i
Karen DeLong has been a passionate, committed advocate in Community Living who has immersed herself in the lives of families, friends, self-advocates and many professionals as she supported so many people, as well as fought hard for the rights of people with disabilities for decades. Her commitment to this work has been well seen as she has been an instrumental player in many of the changes in inclusive education, the development of CLBC, the creation of the At Home program and many other pivotal markings in history throughout BC. Karen will be missed, and we wish her all the best on her hard-earned retirement. We know you are not far away and certainly always in our hearts!
Family Support Institute of BC
Faith Bodnar: Karen, you brought insite and compassion
Annette Delaplace: Inspired by Karen
Thank you for all you’ve done for families and self-advocates across this province! I think back to the Supports for Families Committee, Ripple Effect workshops and how many elections?? And all the work you’ve done on Inclusive Education, the On My Way project and so, so much more. Wow! It has been such a pleasure to be a part of this work with you and to be inspired by you all these years.
Emily and I wish you all the very best in your retirement. You’ll have more time to garden now – maybe see you at the Rose Show next year?
Danielle Kelliher: The Buzz on Karen
When it was announced you were starting at Inclusion BC there was buzz around the office. You were a widely respected family leader in the community and you would bring so much to our organization. I was told we were so lucky to get you.
You started a few months after I did. The hype was real. You were knowledgeable, passionate and brought a unique and valuable family lens to our organization. That lens would lead to the creation of successful campaigns and projects over the years, changing people’s lives and bringing public awareness to important issues.
I am personally grateful to have had you by my side for almost a decade. Your sense of humour, your honest, no-nonsense approach and your insight into complex issues made the chair in your office one of my favourite places.
Know that you have made such a huge contribution to this movement. You have led many projects over the years, too many to mention here.
I remember when you started telling us about the use of restraints and seclusion in BC schools. I credit your dogged determination and hard work for the success of our “Stop Hurting Kids” campaign. I can hear you say right now, “we’re not done yet.” But thanks to you, we were successful at bringing public attention to the issue and letting school and government officials know that the practice was unacceptable and had to stop.
I am disappointed that this pandemic has prevented us from gathering to say goodbye and pay tribute to your legacy. You deserve that. I hope that in a few months you’ll be willing to get together and let us say goodbye and thank you.
Tina Dam: Karen’s Magical Binder
When I think of you Karen I have many fond memories of presentations, meetings and lunchroom chats. But what really comes to mind is your in-depth knowledge and experience regarding inclusive education. I swear for the 1st year I worked at Inclusion BC this scenario would play out multiple times per week :
A call would come in about education I would try to find the information myself- I could not, I would then walk into your office to ask the question.
You would reach out to your bookshelf, pull out one of your information fill binders. The pages all curled, little sticky note tabs marking those key magical places. I swear your fingers would find that perfect tab- you would not be even looking. You would open the binder to that spot and read the exact part of the Act that was needed for that family often there would be a note jotted down beside the passage within the Act that would add even more clarity for the situation. As time has passed I have absorbed the wisdom you have given me, not having to sheepishly ask so many questions.
I know in the next few weeks and months there are going to be several times I will not have a clear answer for a situation and I will want to knock on your office door… but sadly I will have to go through the magical binders on my own … where I am sure you have left may breadcrumb trails for us to follow.
Thank you, Karen, Thank you
Janice Bai: Karen’s Outstanding Leadership
I am glad that I have had the privilege of working with you for over 10 years. You have been an outstanding colleague and your friendly demeanour brightens my workday in the office. Inclusion BC will never be the same without you. Your outstanding leadership and contributions in Inclusive Education and Family Support make a huge difference in our community.
We are certainly going to miss you. Have a happy, healthy retirement!
Thank you, Karen!
Fiona Whittington-Walsh: Karen is so awesome!
Karen is so awesome – I have been on the Board since 2014 and Karen has always been such a key member of the IBC team. Her knowledge and passion regarding Inclusive Education has always been a beacon to me guiding me in my own research and work on inclusive education.
Karen is also an amazing advocate and passionate person. She truly cares about people. When my little grand-baby was diagnosed with heart disease and my daughter was having difficulty navigating the punitive health care system, Karen reached out to me and helped my daughter get connected with another mother who was an excellent advocate for her family throughout the health care system.
I will miss Karen at IBC but I am also so envious of her as she starts her retirement.
YOU deserve it, Karen! Enjoy your retirement and suck the marrow out of life! I will be living vicariously through your journeys via Facebook
All the best,
Dr. Fiona Whittington-Walsh
President and Board Director
Karla Verschoor: Karen is a Steadfast Spiritual Warrior
Karen, you are a spiritual warrior and a steadfast leader! Your strength of character and commitment has truly made a difference for everyone in our community. You embody the resolve, strength and clarity that Margaret Wheatley describes in her writings on “Perseverance”:
“Steadfast people are firm in their resolve; they are not shaken by events or circumstances. They stand clear in their beliefs, grounded in their cause, faithful to the end. Steadfast people seem very rare these days, a distinct minority in the flood of opportunistic, self-serving, priority-switching, disloyal people we encounter daily. And we may question our own steadfastness. But there are enough of us out there, people who place a value on steadfastness and want to learn how to develop it. It’s fine for steadfast people to be the minority. The world always and only changes from the actions and commitment of “a small group of dedicated people,” as sociologist Margaret Mead stated so clearly years ago. Instead of being distracted by all the unsteadfast ones, we need to actively search for each other and expect we’ll find us.”
Thank you, Karen!
Inclusion BC: Thank you to Karen
The years zoomed by… Thank you Karen!
From Everyone at
Some of Karen’s Accomplishments
- Inclusion BC Annual Conference
Lead organizer and director of Inclusion BC’s annual learning event. Under Karen’s leadership, our conference has clearly established itself as BC’s premier learning event for intellectual disability, inclusion and diversity. This year marks our 44th annual learning event.
- Director, Inclusive Education
Every child has the right to an education. But many students with special needs in BC are being denied this right. With Karen’s leadership, Inclusion BC has answered the call of families who need our help as they advocate for their children to get a good education. Karen has also worked tirelessly to change policies and systems so families don’t have to fight every year for their child to receive a quality education
- Stop Hurting Kids
Children in BC are at risk of being injured and traumatized by the use of restraint and seclusion in schools. These procedures are proven to produce severe trauma and physical harm and are experienced disproportionately by children with special needs. Karen led the entire program, with two major reports, discussions with ministry, and research projects to track district response to new ministry guidelines.Inclusion BC, with the Family Support Institute and Douglas College, announced the results of their provincial survey on restraint and seclusion on November 22 at Douglas College in New Westminster. Here, Karen DeLong, Director of Community Development at Inclusion BC, reports on the survey.
- Special Education Partners Working Group
Karen has led this for well over a decade, coordinating, hosting meetings and trying to encourage different advocacy groups to come together and speak in one voice to address concerns and issues in inclusive education.
- Relationships & Partnerships
Karen has forged many partnerships and longterm relationships with other advocacy groups, government partners, and organizations including BC Teachers Federation (BCTF), Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), BC Government Employee Union (BCGEU), Ministry of Education (MEd), Ministry of Child and Family Development (MCFD), Ministry of Social Development & Poverty Reduction, (MSDPR) BC Confederation Of Parent Advisory Councils (BCCPAC), BCEdAccess, Family Support Institute (FSI), and others
- Advisory Groups & Academics
Karen worked with many provincial advisory groups, most recently to advise Minister Fleming on BC’s Education Funding Model Review. She also worked with leading academics and consultants like Leyton Schnellert and Shelley Moore to organize workshops and develop and share inclusive education resources for educators and families
- Fundraising & Grant Writing
Behind the scenes, Karen spent many hours working with potential funders, doing our grant writing, and then filing the reports. Thank you, Karen. Not only did you help us change the world, but you also helped us keep the lights on!
- Community Development
Karen cam for the grassroots, and she always helped stay close to our roots — hosting gamily workshops, travelling the province, and ever generously offering her help and wisdom to everyone who asked.
- Inclusive Education Awards & Awareness
Karne organized and led the Annual Inclusive Education awards, including making the call for nominations, selecting applicants, sharing success stories. Karen also worked to create Inclusive Education Month in February and helped organize the annual Back-to-School campaigns for inclusion advocacy and awareness.