For Mike Denomme, hiring employees with disabilities was the right thing to do, it brought long-term benefits to everyone involved.
Last year, Mr. Denomme, the general manager of a Canadian Tire in Yarmouth, needed help with renovations and approached the West Nova Inclusive Employment Society with a proposal to hire their clients.
Eventually, 28 workers were hired for 20 weeks and 23 of them were people with disabilities.
“I’m proud to have been a part of such an experience,” said Mr. Denomme. “I had the pleasure of meeting and working with many good people. I watched as they became more confident, asked more questions and grew not only as strong individuals, but productive team members.”
Creating opportunities to build relationships between employers and people with disabilities is the goal of the Symposium on Inclusive Education and Employment. Now in its sixth year, the event will take place on Monday, Dec. 2 and Tuesday, Dec. 3 in Halifax to coincide with the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
Emma Fowler was one of the employees hired in Yarmouth and continues to work at Canadian Tire.
“The experience has been awesome,” said Ms. Fowler. “I continue to learn new procedures on a daily basis and learn about new products. If it wasn’t for the society, I wouldn’t have ever had this opportunity and I am thankful for it.”
Working to foster success like Mr. Denomme and Ms. Fowler’s, the symposium focuses on employment and education challenges and creating opportunities for people with disabilities to achieve greater independence. Workshops and panel discussions will explore human rights, education, meaningful employment and community participation. It also promotes greater awareness and understanding of disability issues.
“We all have a stake in the success of Nova Scotians with disabilities,” said Joanne Bernard, Minister responsible for the Disabled Persons’ Commission Act. “Greater participation, fuller lives and economic independence all benefit our communities and create a stronger, healthier province.”
About 20 per cent of the province’s population, 1 in 5 Nova Scotians, lives with a disability. Around the world, about 10 per cent, or 650 million people have disabilities, both visible and invisible.
The theme of this year’s symposium is Ability Starts Here: From Conversation to Action”. Keynote speakers include Mark Wafer, owner of seven Tim Hortons in Ontario, who has employed 85 people with disabilities, and Roger B. Jones, an entrepreneur, consultant and expert on disability and diversity issues.
The Lieutenant Governor’s Persons with Disabilities Employer Partnership Award will be presented at the event’s gala dinner, and an entrepreneurs market will feature goods and services available from a range of entrepreneurs with disabilities.
The symposium is a joint project of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission, Nova Scotia Disabled Persons Commission, the Collaborative Partnership Network, Halifax Regional Municipality, the National Educational Association of Disabled Students and the Entrepreneurs with Disabilities Network.
It will take place at the Halifax Marriott Harbourfront, 1919 Upper Water St. Captioning and sign language interpreters will be available. For details go to www.abilitystartshere.ca/ .