December 3rd marks the International Day of Disabled Persons, proclaimed by the United Nations in 1992. The Day promotes increased awareness and understanding of disability issues. It is also a venue to mobilise support for practical action at all levels by, with and for persons with disabilities to improve their well-being (UN Resolution 47/3). “Accessibility for All for the Millennium” marks this year's theme.
The Ottawa-Carleton Steering Committee for International Day of Disabled Persons has been meeting monthly for the past year in preparation of this special day. The Day will be celebrated in a number of ways.
The National Capital Commission will make special mention of the Day during the lighting of the Christmas lights on Parliament Hill in the evening of December 2nd. On Friday, December 3rd, the Member of Parliament for Lanark-Carleton, Ian Murray, will recognize the Day with a statement in the House of Commons.
A celebratory ceremony will take place at the Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton (RMOC) from 10:00 until 11:00 a.m. Celebrants participating in the ceremony include Bob Chiarelli, Chair, Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton who will present the Peggy Allan Memorial Award; His Worship Mayor Jim Watson, who will present the City of Ottawa Disability Issues Advisory Committee Breaking Barriers Award; and Kathleen Stokley, Interim Director of the rehabilitation Centre of Ottawa, will present the Rehabilitation Centre Achievement Award.
The Masters of Ceremonies leading the event are Max Keeping of CJOH-TV and Odette Gough of CBOF-T. The Keynote Speaker for the celebration is Mike Nemesvary, of the Rehabilitation Centre of Ottawa, who will speak about past and future disability issues and trends, achievements and challenges.
Mike will be assisted by the Chairperson of the Ottawa-Carleton Steering Committee, George Simpson who will address the issues in French. The RMOC will also be the venue for the Community Fair which will run from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. The Community Fair will provide information on disability issues and on services for persons with disabilities and their families. Both the Celebration and the Community Fair will be held in the Rotunda of the Main Lobby.
It is the hope of the Steering Committee and of the event participants that these commemorations will lead all Canadians to reflect on the contributions that persons with disabilities have made in our society and will continue to make in the new millennium.