Council informs politicians
People with Disabilities group makes their case to ministers

Kerry McCluskey
Northern News Services

Iqaluit (Feb 07/00) - A recent meeting set up by the Nunavut Council of People with Disabilities went better than planned, according to Meeka Kilabuk, the council's sole employee.

Responsible for organizing the meeting with the GN ministers, Kilabuk said that primarily the council wanted the politicians to know exactly how the issues of disabled people involved their various departments.

"We had an agreement with the ministers to meet us and take us seriously and address our concerns department by department. We actually got immediate results," said Kilabuk, explaining that some departments agreed to make needed donations of furniture and office supplies for their future office space.

"We have to get the ministers properly briefed on how each (department) is affected by the disabled community, whether they know it or not. That's why we went in there."

Kilabuk said the results were very positive and that along with committing to a strong working relationship, the council and the government began to work on ways to ensure that disabled Nunavummiut were better included in all aspects of the government.

For example, Kilabuk said the council was in the process of reviewing the upcoming Education Act and looking at ways to make it more sensitive to the needs of disabled people.

"We've already started making notes where it's lacking disability components like access to other languages, like sign language and braille. That's our input -- to make sure the Education Act becomes consistent with the requirements of people with disabilities," she said.

The council also secured the commitment that they would be Nunavut's official organization to address disability issues in the territory, and methods of training Inuit at the community level to work with children with heightened needs was discussed.

Kilabuk added that the council had a number of proposals for training under development and that they were in the process of planning a board training workshop.

She estimates that there are approximately 100 people living with disabilities in Nunavut.