Board member Dave Sherritt reports on decisions at recent gathering
Michelle Strutzenberger


The B.C. People First movement is interested in strengthening its connections, advancing itself and in the process doing a lot more to rebuild local communities.

That’s what board member Dave Sherritt saw and heard from the 50 or so delegates at the May 11-13 provincial conference in Burnaby.

“The interest was just phenomenal,” Dave tells posAbilities Today, adding this came through most notably in a panel discussion he helped deliver.

“People wanted more information on what we’re doing down here, and we said that’s great because we want to liaise with other groups throughout the province and see if we can get a better understanding of what you’re doing.”

The panel leading a discussion on the People First history and what's next.

The intention in all of this is to consider how the more flourishing communities can share what’s working for them, and how all communities can be “rebuilt” in the process, says Dave.

The provincial board is now considering what it can do to create more back-and-forth communication — on a limited and ever-shrinking budget. Dave notes more people than ever are using the Internet and e-mail, so those can be considered likely tools.

It was also clear at the conference that people are interested in seeing the provincial board do more help to nurture existing regional groups or launch new ones.

Again, the challenge here is funding, says Dave, noting they are looking at ways to become more self-sufficient as the possibilities of government support become less likely.

Dave says he believes strengthening the movement is a matter of social justice.

“Not everybody has accepted people with diverse abilities, and I think that’s one of the main focuses that People First has — getting it so we’re on par with the rest of the community,” he says, suggesting that creating these changes requires education more than anything.

He describes the work as an “uphill fight,” but notes the more people involved, the better.

“We find there is strength in numbers; the more members we have, the stronger our voice.”

Asked about his own commitment to this work, Dave says that as someone who has a disability, he has experienced treatment that nobody should have to go through.

It’s both those experiences, and what he’s learned about the experiences of others who have diverse abilities, that propels him forward.

“It’s about time that these injustices were righted and in a big way. That’s what got me into People First, and that’s what keeps me going,” says Dave.

“I know I deserve a better life and I’m going to either take it or go out and found out how I can take it.”

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