This October, Karla Verschoor and Erika Cedillo attended Mission Association for Community Living‘s 65th anniversary event where a community came together to celebrate inclusion and decades of community building with dinner, music, and heartfelt speeches.
When you operate at a provincial level it is so important to stay connected to ‘why’ we do this work and ‘who we do it for and with’. In early October, in a beautifully decorated ballroom in Mission, my heart was filled with the strongest sense of community I had experienced in a long time. It was all about the people who were there. From the MLA, Mayor and the Councillors I shared a table with, who were beaming with pride for an organization that has meant so much to their community. To my long-time friends Bryce and JP from the self-advocate movement, who greeted me with cheer. To the hundreds of staff and families that filled the room with laughter and joy. Oh, and of course, I can’t forget my co-worker Erika Cedillo who was the first one on the dance floor after a very long week of work. What a wonderful way to celebrate 65 years of community building by one of Inclusion BC’s earliest members.
At the front of the room, there were a series of panels mapping out the origin and many achievements of the Mission Association for Community Living, lovingly known locally as MACL. I have presented the history of the community living movement hundreds of times, but it was fascinating to see it from the perspective of one community. It was also so inspiring to read the historical evolution of the services provided to children, youth, and adults. A key takeaway for me was that MACL is a learning organization that is dedicated to the people they support and their community. The CEO of MACL, Dawn Hein’s opening remarks were a powerful message of connection and love for the community, which reinforced this feeling even more.
This year marks the 25th year the province of BC has declared October as Community Inclusion Month. I felt privileged to celebrate it with the team at MACL this year. In 2025, Inclusion BC will turn 70. I hope that in the next year and a half, we will have a few more big wins to add to our collective timeline to build a world where everybody belongs. Perhaps inclusive childcare legislation as Bill C-35 makes its way through the federal Senate. How about a National Disability Benefit that is fully funded and not clawed back by any province in Canada? Although these both will improve the lives of thousands of people, it’s important to remember that true belonging happens between people within their community. We are always stronger together and to all the people from MACL, I am happy to be on the same team.
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