Contributed by Monique Nelson

Several employee and board members of Team posAbilities recently joined 600 delegates from across British Columbia to participate in Inclusion BC’s 45th annual learning event called Inclusion 2024: Everybody Belongs! This conference is well known and loved across our sector. Gathering in person and online provides us with a unique opportunity to connect with the latest information and resources on inclusion and diversity, as well as with each other.

The location for this year’s conference was Nanaimo, a community on the east coast of central Vancouver Island. The city was built upon the unceded, ancestral and traditional lands of the Snuneymuxw First Nation, which also has villages along the Fraser River and Gulf Islands waterways. I was truly thankful for their stewardship of this area, and experienced the abundance of natural resources while visiting. I was even blessed with an Orca siting as I crossed the Salish Sea by ferry!

Our team members presented or coordinated four workshops, and you can learn more about the topics by clicking on the links below:

There were so many interesting workshops hosted by other agencies, advocates and academics and I was sorry to not be able to take them all in. One reason, was that a big part of the conference is networking and greeting people at posAbilities’ info booth, swapping updates and stories over meals and of course shimmying on the dance floor Friday night to the music of Baby Jane Bare Bones! I found so many folks did not yet know about platforms like Curiko for example, and it was wonderful to be able to share that info.

A new resource that I learned about is the Reconciliation Theatre Society. This is a troupe that involves Indigenous and non-Indigenous playwrights and performers, who work together to craft their productions. You can learn more about them here on facebook.

Over the years, I have noticed a growth in self-advocate leadership in community and at special events like this. I can see our sector is moving forward by including the lived experience of persons served. As the saying goes, “nothing about us, without us!” Kara Anderson absolutely shone when she posed questions to elected representatives at all levels of government about strategies for accessibility and inclusion.

I have also noticed that research into key questions and challenges within our sector is happening all across BC and Canada. There were poster presentations on projects based in the Canadian Institute for Inclusion and Citizenship at the University of British Columbia; as well as those at Queens University and the King’s University, Centre for Civic Religious Literacy). Some of our partners bring us learnings from across the globe!

This combined effort makes me hopeful that there will be a brighter future for children through a more inclusive and well supported education (e.g., research on hybrid format teacher education in rural and remote communities), for young adults who are seeking employment (e.g., IMPACT 2.0 and TYDE online learning program/projects) , and for everyone regarding the choices in how their personal supports are funded and delivered (e.g. Individualized Funding). Also in focus, is future planning – from developing support networks to putting financial plans and legal tools into place.

One of the workshops I was able to participate in, was about the strategies and priorities for the four pillars of the Reimagining Community Inclusion plan. In the session, we got so focused on housing accessibility, that we didn’t get to discuss other topics like employment, mental/healthcare, and Indigenous inclusion in detail! You can read about the plan here.

In closing, we had an inspirational panel featuring advocates, organizations and their initiatives that question and challenge the status quo. By doing this, they believe that we can move toward creating truly inclusive communities. One example, was the creation of a small farm in Nanaimo city limits. The project meets a community need for wholesome, affordable and accessible food (Growing Opportunities Farm Community Co-op); while also using farm work as an opportunity to teach important employment skills to job seekers (WEST program, Vancouver Island University). Holly Bright from Crimson Coast Dance rounded out the talk.



posAbilities was proud to be a sponsor of the Inclusion 2024: Everybody Belongs! conference, and we look forward to even greater participation in next year’s learning event, which will take place in Richmond, BC.