Bringing People Together

ISSN 1180-503X

Spring 2019

Make a Monthly Donation


You can make a difference. Your monthly donation enables us to budget effectively so that those with disabilities and their families have the benefit of consistent programs and services. Your donation would help support:

  • Matching Programs which reduce loneliness and isolation by matching volunteer advocates one-on-one with a child, youth, adult or senior who have a disability.
  • Lifetime Networks works with families to create a personal support network for their loved on with a disability.
  • Person Directed Planning works with individuals with disabilities to pro-actively achieve their dreams and aspirations.
  • Support groups such as Walking in my Shoes, Children’s Sibling Group and Teen Sibling Group provide families with resources and the opportunity to meet and share experiences.
  • Fetal Alcohol Resource Program provides community capacity development across multiple sectors of service providers and service navigation for individuals with FASD and families.

If each person impacted by our programs gives $10 monthly, we can ensure our programs continue to make a difference in the lives of those with disabilities and their families.

2019 Annual General Meeting of Citizen Advocacy Ottawa

An organization’s annual general meeting (AGM) is the most important meeting of the year, with the Board of Directors, Executive, and general membership all in attendance.  At the meeting, the Board details agency performance and outlook, and all members vote on key issues relating to the organization including the election of Board members.

When: Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Where: Citizen Advocacy Ottawa,  312 Parkdale Ave., Rooms 1, 2 & 3 | Free Parking – visitors, staff and street parking |  Situated close to Tunney’s Pasture

Time:    5:30 pm –7:30 pm | Light refreshments will be served

Here are the membership requirements according to the new Bylaws adopted at the 2015 Annual General Meeting:

  • If you are a Volunteer Advocate, a Friend or has been a participant in the Independent Facilitation and Planning program in 2018-2019 your membership fee is $5.
  • If you are a WIMS member, a Sibling Group parent, an Independent Facilitation and Planning family member in 2018-2019, a board member or a committee member it is $25.
  • If you are a Lifetime Networks member, your membership fee is included in the annual membership fee for the program.

IMPORTANT: To be able to exercise your right to vote at the Annual General Meeting you will need to purchase a membership no later than May 31, 2019. A purchase of membership after May 31 will not qualify you to vote at this year’s AGM.

Please RSVP by June 7, 2019 by calling the office at 613-761-9522 or by email to info@citizenadvocacy.org

Advocacy in Action

Helen Barrette and Mireille Desmarais were matched three years ago (March 2016). Like many matches they started out a little unsure if it would work. Helen says, “It can be challenging and daunting at first, and it can take time to develop a routine and find your “groove” together”. However, she goes on to say that from her experience “there is no question that it is worth it, for the pleasure it can bring, and the positive impact matching can make on each other’s lives”.

The pair get together regularly. They love visiting the greenbelt for nature walks and picnics. They enjoy having coffee together, playing cards, going to movies and getting out in the community. Some of their bigger outings have been to the National Art Gallery, MosiaCanada, and local events such as the Greek Festival and the Great Glebe Garage sale.

Mireille loves that from time to time she and Helen jump in a car and go off exploring together. Helen too enjoys their adventures. She also commented that she appreciates Mireille’s sense of humour, creativity and her passion to try new things and explore new areas of the city.

We asked them both about the impact the match has had on them. Helen replied, “Getting to know Mireille, and spending time together, has brought so much joy to my life! She reminds me to appreciate the simple pleasures in life – whether it is feeding the birds, having a picnic outside, or enjoying an art exhibit. She is a remarkable person, and I feel lucky to have come to know her through Citizen Advocacy.” And Mireille commented “I am thankful for being matched; my Advocate and I share common interest in each other. It has made my life brighter

Person-Directed Planning & Facilitation

When Kate was barely out of the toddler stage, people would look at her, then look at me and say things such as, “I know someone just like your daughter who washes dishes for a living and she just loves it!”

Then they would turn to Kate’s twin brother and say; “and young fella’ what do you want to be when you grow up?”

Why do people predict the future for our daughter, but not our son?

Simply because she has Down syndrome and he doesn’t.

As parents, we have always fought against the assumptions about and limitations imposed on Kate. I’m sure people mean well. They perhaps feel they need to make me feel o.k. about having a child who is different. But I could never understand why that means making so many assumptions about her difference. That’s why finding an Independent Facilitator was a breath of fresh air; someone in our corner who also wanted to know who Kate is and what she really wants to do with her life.

Kate’s facilitator invested the time to get to know Kate and help Kate get to know herself. During these regularly scheduled meetings, they talked about what Kate is passionate about, her strengths and challenges and where Kate sees herself in the future. The facilitator helped Kate define her goals and connect them to real life. Kate and the Facilitator then created a CV that, in presentation and content, truly reflects Kate.

Kate met once a month with her facilitator and then once every three months with her Circle of Support. The Circle of Support extended Kate’s contacts in the community and brought new ideas and new resources into the picture. This came at the perfect age for Kate as she transitions out of high school and as she seeks relationships and input from people other than her parents.

I am happy to say that Kate landed a paid, part-time job this past winter. She did love the job…even though it wasn’t doing dishes.

Lifetime Networks

Lifetime Networks has a new social group that the members are proudly calling “Sunny Friendship Brain.”  The group has met three times and the goals of this group are to build new friendships for the members, go out for fun activities, and to decrease loneliness and isolation.  Our three events were; a planning event at a coffee shop, a potluck and a trip to see the butterflies at the Museum of Nature.  The group members have lots of great ideas and our next event will be a mall walk and a chat over coffee or tea.  If your loved one is part of Lifetime Networks and can manage, with little support, these types of outings or get-togethers, give the Program Coordinator, Kelly Howson, a call at 613-761-9522 X 223 to find out more about this group.

Walking in My Shoes

Is it spring already?  Time is flying by and we have had a busy winter with lots of information sharing and learning about new resources throughout the city at the WIMS Parent Group evenings. 

Considering becoming a member or attending a meeting?  Read how one of our newer participants feels WIMS has supported them, “I am fairly new to WIMS, but this group already has provided me with so much information to help navigate a very difficult system for our children/adults living with a disability. More importantly, it has helped me to connect with other caregivers and family members enabling me to share my experiences and to learn from theirs. I look forward to these meetings as it really does remind me that I am not alone. (Erica Stillo, caregiver to 22-year-old Step-Daughter).

Coming up! Anxiety and Disabilities May 21, Jennifer Jarvis, Behaviour Analyst with CHEO Behaviour Services, specializes in working with children and youth with disabilities.  Anxiety is a challenge that is often observed in children, youth, and adults diagnosed with developmental disabilities. In this presentation, we will discuss what anxiety might look like, how it may affect a person’s ability to function, and how to identify triggers and trends. Jennifer will provide an overview of some preventative and coping strategies that may be beneficial to use at home while waiting to access services.

Have a subject you would like to learn more about regarding caring for your loved one?   Join us! Contact Darlene at WIMS@citizenadvocacy.org.

Children/Teen Sibling Groups

The teen group has recently expressed interest in looking at what is happening in the Sibling Collaborative, a sibling-run group in Ottawa that is comprised of adult brother and sisters, many of whom are now caregivers to their sibling who is living with a disability.  The teens want to know what other siblings are doing, as they realize that they will likely play a meaningful role in the lives of their sibling who is living with a disability. 

Fetal Alcohol Resource Program

During a major snowstorm around St-Valentine’s day, the Fetal Alcohol Resource Program (FARP) organized the first Community-Wide Physician Grand Rounds on Alcohol, Pregnancy, and Patients sponsored by Otsuka Pharmaceuticals.

The Grand Rounds consisted of three different events. First, there was a presentation, by Dr. Ana Hanlon-Dearman, an international expert on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) to approximately 150 physicians working at CHEO. Next, physicians in attendance networked during a three-course gourmet at Lago Bar and Grill. Finally, a select few attended a clinical-care workshop with complimentary breakfast at Bayview Yards. Throughout, physicians exchanged information on the latest research on FASD prevalence, diagnosis, and community resources.

The 2016 CanFASD guidelines states that FASD diagnoses should be made by a multidisciplinary team. Currently, this is not the case in our region. Physicians who attended the Grand Rounds expressed concern regarding this issue, and interest in working toward development of a multi-disciplinary FASD Diagnostic Clinic.

Seeding Innovation Through Knowledge

The Seeding Innovation Through Knowledge project has had an amazing first year! We’ve hosted, and filmed, some amazing speakers and thank them all for their interesting and informative contributions.

We wanted this project to develop into something that would have a real and lasting impact. This is how Community Clips was born. With Gamma Pro’s expertise we’ve created videos of the workshops’ contents to allow families to continue the learning in their homes. You can view information on housing; wills, estates, trusts and Power of Attorney; system navigation; and the sibling experience all from the comfort of your home. Whether you prefer to watch them in one sitting or in ten, these videos will give you important information to help you plan a good life for your loved one.

Caregiver’s Retreat

A highlight of our year was the Caregiver Retreat at the Brookstreet Hotel in March. The retreat’s goals are to help caregivers connect, learn and relax continues to grow as families come together from across the Ottawa region to be with their peers who “get it”, to discover resources to help plan, and to be pampered and recharge.

 We hosted RDSP creators, Al Etmanski and Vickie Cammack, as our Keynote Speakers. We were also thrilled to have Susan Beayni from Partners for Planning there as our plenary speaker. Gail Dawson provided some practical tools around compassion fatigue and Stephanie King helped families plan for the transition into the adult system. We were also able to leverage the amazing local talent of Citizen Advocacy staff with representation from the Lifetime Networks, Independent Facilitation and Matching programs. We were delighted to be able to start the retreat with the blessing of the Algonquin Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation by Elder Claudette Commanda and want to thank Minister Carla Qualtrough, MPP Jeremy Roberts and MPP Joel Harden for showing the cross-party multi-government support for the families in this region who have a loved one living with a disability.

Ready, Set, Start Training! Run for Citizen Advocacy!

Join the Scotiabank Charity Challenge at the Ottawa Race Weekend on May 25-26! Ottawa Race Weekend is Canada’s largest running event and it provides opportunities for the community and all levels of runners, walkers and those in wheelchairs to participate. Don’t miss your chance to be part of Citizen Advocacy’s team!

Our plan is to fundraise together, give away some great prizes and enjoy ourselves on race day. No one gets left behind. Register online or the CA team will help you register. Individuals can meet other team members at the kick-off meeting and our experts will share their fundraising tips! We hope you’ll mark your calendars and get ready to run, donate, cheer or volunteer.

Questions? Comments? Join our team? Please contact cfortier@citizenadvocacy.org or 613-761-9522 ext. 250

Book Now! Magnificent 25th Anniversary of Evening in the Maritimes will sell out soon!

The stage is being set for Evening in the Maritimes‘ magnificent Silver Anniversary on Wednesday, May 22, 2019, another remarkable night of the hospitality and generosity of the East Coast. At this highly-anticipated, sure to be sold-out event, our guests will experience an authentic East Coast party full of food, drinks, friends, and fun! In addition, they will be demonstrating their vital support for Citizen Advocacy’s work to reduce the isolation of people living with disabilities.

CTV’s Graham Richardson together with Honorary Co-Chairs Senator Vernon White and David Cork, Director, Scotia McLeod invite you to join them for Evening in the Maritimes. A unique event that showcases a fabulous dinner featuring fresh North Atlantic lobster as the star (there are also superb steak and vegetarian options available)!  Other highlights include the exceptional silent and exciting balloon raffle (with all balloons popped in unison), the outstanding live auction with auctioneer Laurence Greenspon and down-east fun and entertainment. A show-stopping 25th anniversary evening to remember!

Over 700 high-profile and influential guests will be in attendance, including the most prominent business, medical, political, government, diplomatic, and community leaders, media , and prestigious social figures. Senators, cabinet ministers, MPs, MPPs, and local politicians join the fun every year.

Book now, before we sell out – this is an event you don’t want to miss!

Individual tickets are available at $185 ($85 tax receipt).

Corporate tables for ten people are $2,100.

Incredibly popular 25th Anniversary VIP Circle Tables for ten people are $2,500.
We invite you to join this vibrant circle, composed of visionary leaders demonstrating vital support for our Everyday Champions program and making a grand gesture for Citizen Advocacy, in celebration of our spectacular Silver Anniversary and Citizen Advocacy’s amazing 45 year legacy. A very limited number of 25th Anniversary VIP Circle Tables are available, so book quickly! In recognition of your important contribution, you will receive exclusive VIP privileges & premium benefits.

Even if you are unable to attend personally, we would be delighted if you would consider purchasing individual ticket(s) or a table, for members of the disability community who may otherwise not be able to attend. Or, make a fully tax-deductible financial donation in any amount (benefits include a charitable tax receipt for the full amount and valuable recognition).

Since its inaugural event 25 years ago, Evening in The Maritimes, has grown into one of Ottawa’s premier and most unique fundraising galas, raising more than $3 million for Citizen Advocacy Ottawa.

Evening in the Maritimes Volunteers Needed


We are looking for volunteers to assist with this year’s 25th Annual Evening in the Maritimes, our gala dinner in support of Citizen Advocacy.

The event details are as follows:

Date: May 22, 2019

Time: 4:30 – 10:30 pm (Dinner will be provided for all volunteers)

Location: Hilton Lac-Leamy, 3 Boulevard du Casino, Gatineau, QC – free parking

Dress Code: Comfortable shoes, black & white and a splash of red!

Roles: Greeters, raffle balloon sellers, live auction and silent auction monitors

Please let Virgilia virgilia.partridge@gmail.com know if you are available by May 8, 2019. Once confirmed, further details will be sent.

Thanks so much and we look forward to hearing back from you!

Virgilia Partridge & Meghan Maack – EiTM Volunteer Coordinators

Board Member Introduction – Stacey Bielaski

I’ve been on the board for a year. As someone who lives with a disability I feel I have the skills and knowledge to make a difference in the lives of others living with a disability. I enjoy how the board wants to make difference in the lives of people with disabilities, seeing us as important people in society and learning new ways to engage with others. I am the Vice Chair of the Consumer Advisory Committee at Citizen Advocacy.

Right now, I am working right now on my Grade 12 Diploma with a view to going on to college to become an Early Childhood Educator.  I like writing, reading, painting and photography.  Plans for my future include opening my own photography business and becoming a motivational speaker so I can show others that disability is not the inability to do something, it is the ability to see things through new eyes. I want to make a difference, encourage others with disabilities to be able to use their voice; to show that that we are valuable, and we have a purpose to do great things in this world. We matter and having people who see and that believe in us is an amazing thing! 

Together, we can change the prospects of people living with disabilities.

Volunteer Profile – Brenda Desjardins

How long have you been volunteering with Citizen Advocacy?
I believe I have been volunteering with Citizen Advocacy for 5 years now.  It started with volunteering at the monthly dances as my son LOVES them.  The energy at the dances is refreshing and invigorating too.  Shortly afterwards, I started volunteering at the annual Evening in the Maritimes event.  I love this yearly fundraiser since I meet amazing people and have a blast volunteering at the same time.  Over the years, I have participated in several Committees and I currently sit on the Independent Facilitation Matters Coalition Committee as well as the Knowledge Transfer Advisory Committee.

What motivated you to help CA?
My son and I discovered and loved the monthly dances.  Here is a video of my son showing off his dance moves.  I heard that they needed volunteers to continue them, so I stepped up.  These dances are amazing and a gem which I would do anything to protect.  Truly warms my heart!  After getting involved with the dances my involvement grew and continues to grow.  Denis counts his sleeps between dances.  Denis may be non-verbal, but he definitely communicates his love for these dances.

What is your work and/or volunteer background?
I work full-time for Statistics Canada.  I started volunteering in High School many years ago as a Candy Striper at the Civic Hospital.  Volunteering meets a need.  Presently I do the Newsletter for Children at Risk, I am a Board Member with the Gloucester Association for Children with Special Needs and volunteer in different capacities with Citizen Advocacy.

What do you enjoy most about your involvement?
As I said, volunteering meets a need.  I love volunteering and can’t wait to retire from Statistics Canada, so I can do more of it.  Volunteering is a part of me … I enjoy meeting new people, giving back, using my skills, being counted on and so much more.

Tell us about yourself.
I am married to Yves (my high school sweet heart), have two boys (Denis who is 23 and Eric who is 26) and last year we saved a stray cat who we called Lucky.  I do not have a lot of down time but when I do relax I enjoy making puzzles, reading, watching TV and taking walks.  I also enjoy concerts and attend them often with my oldest son, we recently saw Post Modern Jukebox and are looking forward to seeing Pentatonix this summer.

Bottle Drive

Help us raise funds to help people living with disabilities.

Drop your bottles and cans off with our volunteers and we’ll do the rest.

When: Saturday, May 11 | 11:00 am – 2:00 pm

Where: Parking Lot, 312 Parkdale Ave

Can’t get there on Saturday – we will accept your empties at our offices during work hours.

Save the Date

Our Annual Picnic is coming soon!

When: Saturday, August 24

Time: 11:00 am – 3:00 pm

Where: Dovercourt Park & Recreation Centre NEW VENUE

More details to come.