Many issues to move forward on
Lisa Bailey

A self-advocate who works to empower and educate to build a fully inclusive community for people with disabilities, Lorie Sherritt acted to ensure former Woodlands residents and their supporters could be involved in the demolition of the site’s Centre Block tower.

Removal of the last visible remnant of the former institution in New Westminster had been scheduled for Sept. 19 but Lorie, a member of posAbilities board of directors and other organizations, successfully lobbied to change it.

Now set for Oct. 18, demolition day will include an event with speakers and information displays.

Lorie, who is helping to organize the afternoon ceremony and has been asked to emcee it, says time was needed so former residents, their families and others interested or participating in the inclusion movement could plan to be part of demolition day.

“When I found out about it, I just couldn’t stand by and do nothing. I feel I had to do something,” says Lorie, who wrote a letter to the municipality asking for a later date for the demolition.

Lorie says she wants to help “give (former residents) a chance to be there because they had lived there for so long that maybe they want to see it come down.”

An invitation by the People First Society to attend the event has resulted in a flurry of phone calls from interested parties, including former residents and families.

Lorie, who says her cousin resided at Woodlands, describes the tower structure as “an eyesore” and a reminder of the past that she’ll be glad to see disappear.

“It’s part of history that should never have happened in B.C. but it did and we can’t change the facts,” she says.

“We have to move on . . . I think (demolition) should have happened a long time ago but of course, now it’s finally becoming reality.”

Lorie says it will be an emotional day.

As she’s found with years of self-advocacy work alongside her husband, Lorie says the demolition event is an opportunity to give a voice to people with disabilities.

“When you go and speak, it’s amazing how people listen,” she says, noting former Woodlands residents are “human beings like the rest of us.”

Lorie notes that there are many issues to move forward on.

Pointing to the potential of people with disabilities, the demolition event will include a visually impaired friend of Lorie’s who sings.

“That’s going to set the tone for it,” she says.

Those planning to attend the Oct. 18 event are asked to call Lorie at 604-415-4503.

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