Love on Wheels: A Poetry Workshop Discusses Sexuality and Disability

Sexuality and disability. Beauty and beastliness. These are some of the topics to be covered at Love on Wheels, a free poetry workshop led by Mexican poet Ekiwah Adler-Belendez on October 20th from 1:00-3:00 pm at the Blusson Spinal Cord Centre.

“We will articulate and discover ways that poetry can be a second body to move more freely and communicate with the world,” says Adler-Belendez. “The goal is to raise these questions, to offer support for each other, and to deepen our own curiosity.”

Born and raised in Mexico, Adler-Belendez published his first book of poetry when he was only 12 years old. He has written and acted in three plays and he speaks at universities across the United States and Mexico advocating for the power of poetry and its use in understanding disability. His first name means “warrior” in the Purepecha language.

“What I really enjoy about teaching this workshop is that as a man in a wheelchair, I have no steadfast answers but a tremendous curiosity to exchange information and experiences,” says Adler-Belendez, who has Cerebral Palsy. “We will open a safe space to discuss how our disability defines us and how it does not.”

The event is sponsored by Spinal Cord Injury BC (SCI BC). “Disability and sexuality is not something people are generally comfortable with and it is rarely discussed publicly,” says Chris McBride, SCI BC’s executive director. “We decided to host this event because poetry is a powerful medium that can transcend our normal assumptions about what it means to live and express oneself with a disability.”

Love on Wheels is a free event for all SCI BC members. Non-members can attend for a suggested donation of $10, although no one will be turned away for lack of financial resources. Space is limited so advanced registration is required: http://sci-bc.ca/event/poetry-workshop/

For more information contact:
Candice Vallantin
Communications Specialist, Spinal Cord Injury BC
604-326-1203, cvallantin@sci-bc.ca, http://www.sci-bc.ca/

Homelessness Survey Results Released

Media Release
For immediate release
October 4, 2012

Survey Finds One-in-Four Lower Mainland Residents Know Someone Homeless in Past Five Years

(Vancouver, B.C.) Today, in preparation for the Seventh Annual Homelessness Action Week
(Oct 7 – 13), the Greater Vancouver Regional Steering Committee on Homelessness released Community Values: A Public Opinion Survey About Homelessness in Metro Vancouver, setting out  the results of its first ever public opinion survey on homelessness.

“There were some surprises for us in this survey including the fact that nearly one in four residents claim to know someone who is either currently homeless or has been homeless in the last five years,” commented Alice Sundberg, Co-chair of the Regional Steering Committee. “While empathy is increasing, residents are not satisfied with the rate of progress throughout the region. Affordable housing is seen as a top priority.”

Seventy-one percent say they agree with the idea that it is possible to have a community in which there will be a home for everyone that chooses to have one but a majority (54%) said housing in their community should be there for the people who can afford it.

“The majority of residents think job training and employment opportunities are the preferred way to address Aboriginal homelessness.” noted Patrick Stewart, Chair of the AHSC. “Thirty-two percent see culturally appropriate programs and services for Aboriginal people are as an important solution.”

“Youth homelessness has been a priority for Vancouver Foundation for four years,” said Vancouver Foundation President and CEO, Faye Wightman. “And so we are pleased that people see this as a serious issue. The findings suggest less understanding of the pathways to homelessness for young people, including youth transitioning out of care. We know these youth are particularly vulnerable to homelessness which is why we are now focusing our work on youth who are transitioning out of government care.”

The survey was conducted from September 10 to 12, 2012 by Angus Reid Public Opinion and included 1,006 randomly selected adults in British Columbia’s Lower Mainland. The geographic distribution of participants

About Homelessness Action Week
Homelessness Action Week, is in its seventh year, and is organized by the Greater Vancouver Regional Steering Committee on Homelessness. The week focuses on increasing awareness and action around homelessness and promotes events for including Homeless Connect Events (service fairs for people who are homeless) and public events (like film nights) and a public awareness campaign focused on strengthening community.  Over 50 events are posted on the ‘community calendar’ pages at www.stophomelessness.ca

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Key Findings Backgrounder Available
For information and interviews contact:
Helesia Luke, Co-ordinator Homelessness Action Week
Office: 778.786.2838 | Cell: 778.858.0553

Update on Woodlands Survivors

This is great news for the Survivors of Woodlands who are able to apply for compensation for the abuse they’ve suffered at the institution. Unfortunately, Survivors who were at Woodlands before August 1, 1974 are still not able to apply.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WOODLANDS SETTLEMENT DEADLINE EXTENDED ONE YEAR
Court Finds Claims Process is Complicated and Time-Consuming

VANCOUVER, October 4, 2012 – Yesterday Chief Justice Bauman of the Supreme Court of British Columbia extended the claim deadline in the Woodlands class action settlement for an additional year, to September 19, 2013.

The settlement compensates some of the survivors of the Woodlands School, a residential facility operated by the Province of B.C. for mentally disabled children and adults. Woodlands closed in 1996 amid allegations of systemic abuse. Two independent investigations confirmed the widespread physical and sexual abuse of Woodlands residents.

In 2010 the Province agreed to settle the class action, offering a complicated claims process that allows Woodlands survivors who were at the institution after 1974 to apply for compensation.

In today’s decision, Chief Justice Bauman finds “the claims process is much more complicated and time consuming than the parties apparently considered in the negotiation and finalization of the Settlement Agreement” and that “[s]uch an extensive claims process was hardly contemplated by the Settlement Agreement.”

David Klein, whose firm has been retained by over 800 class members, says “the Province has taken a scorched earth approach in its responses to the survivors’ claims.” As a result, he notes “only 9 claims have been decided by the court appointed adjudicators in the almost two years that the settlement has operated.” He continued: “I would be surprised if the Province isn’t spending more money paying an army of lawyers and experts to fight these claims than it would cost to provide meaningful compensation to the survivors.”

Mr. Klein added that “the oldest, most fragile Woodlands survivors who left the institution prior to August 1, 1974 continue to be left out in the cold. While the Province was not legally required to compensate residents for abuse prior to 1974, the cut-off date is a morally arbitrary distinction.” He says that “the Province could make compensation available to all Woodlands residents if it wanted to.” Mr. Klein believes that there are fewer than 500 pre-1974 Woodlands survivors still alive and that a more streamlined compensation process should be developed to recognize the suffering of all the Woodlands survivors.

The class is represented by Klein Lyons of Vancouver and Toronto, one of Canada’s most experienced class action law firms.

For more information, contact:

David Klein
Klein Lyons
Suite 400, 1385 West 8th Avenue
Vancouver, BC V6H 3V9
Tel: (604) 874-7171