Tag Archives: disability studies awards

2017 Annual Student Award Ceremony

Photograph of Kathryn Church
Kathryn Church offers welcome.
Photograph of Kathryn Church and Lee Armstrong
Lee Armstrong M. K. Chant Disability Studies Award winner with Kathryn Church.

Lee Armstrong: Lee planned a degree in art history but found a more satisfying career path through a Developmental Service Worker diploma that led to Disability Studies. Working in a range of service settings “sparked the fire” in her to learn to think about disability in new ways which she has done through five semesters in our program. Based in an Ottawa hospital, her job in augmentative communication and writing services challenges her every day to apply classroom knowledge to advocacy for people’s right to a voice.

Photograph of Kathryn Church and Naleni Jacob
Naleni Jacob M. K. Chant Disability Studies Award winner with Kathryn Church.

Naleni Jacob: Naleni immigrated to Canada in the 1990s with her two sons, one of whom is disabled, and has been the sole provider for them ever since. It is through experiences of parenting that she has come to Disability Studies, specifically through fighting for her son’s rights to education. She knows intimately the struggles that immigrants, in particular, face in attempting to achieve substantive inclusion, and has been heavily involved in parental outreach, and addressing issues of long-term care. She has become an activist mother.

Joanne McQuinn (not present due to debilitating back pain): A new student to Disability Studies, Joanne is “incredibly excited and proud to be part of such an amazing program”. She is employed as an Educational Assistant in a high school program for autistic students. In this context, she is an advocate for rights, justice and change in what is still called “special education.” Her goal is to work in post-secondary student accessibility services or helping disabled students transition to post-secondary studies.

Photograph of Paris Master-McRae and Alisha Barfoot
Alisha Barfoot winner of the Harry E. Foster Memorial Award with Paris Master-McRae.

Alisha Barfoot travelled from her home in Owen Sound to celebrate with us today. she has dedicated her academic and professional career to the practice of inclusive education. It is her passion — even if it means being unsettled in a job where disabled students are denied the meaningful learning experiences. A 2017 graduate of our program, Alisha’s final independent study painted portraits of inclusive education based on accounts of actual practice provided by inclusive educators.

Photograph of Paris Master-McRae and Ryan Mcinally
Ryan Mcinally winner of the Harry E. Foster Memorial Award with Paris Master-McRae.

Ryan Mcinally is filling the routine periods of unemployment that he experiences in his job with courses towards his Disability Studies degree – which he expects to complete by 2019. He works in an alternative classroom supporting at-risk youth, many of who have mental health labels. In our program, he is thinking about the contradictions of his own role, and using those reflections to develop strategies for improving the lives of students. This award supports Ryan’s educational aspirations, and his growing advocacy as an educator.

Photograph of Paris Master-McRae and Ronnie Samarita
Ronnie Samarita winner of the Harry E. Foster Memorial Award with Paris Master-McRae.

Ronnie Samarita: As a high school student, a co-op placement in an adult day program for labelled people sparked Ronnie into a Developmental Services Worker program and from there to Disability Studies. As an Educational Assistant, speaking up for students is a daily part of practice. Ronnie is grasping the complexities of the “support worker” role and looking to broaden his work into a range of age groups and school settings.

Photograph of Kathryn Church and Nabeela Siddique.
Nabeela Siddique winner of the Harry E. Foster Memorial award with Kathryn Church.

Nabella Siddique is of Pakistani origin but was born on the tiny Middle Eastern island of Bahrain where she perceives a powerful need for disability rights activism and the voices of disabled people. Taking up disability from a Canadian perspective has caused her to think about marginalization and discrimination as a global issue. As a teaching assistant with the Peel school board, she can feel the impact of Disability Studies in the way she deals with her students. As the twin sister of a disabled woman, she has a personal stake in inclusive education, human dignity and peace.

Megan Suggitt (unable to attend) is a first year student in our program who reports that she is already perceiving the world around her in ways that are more culturally alert – whether it is to Indigeneous people in Canada, the Hearing Voices movement or students with learning disabilities in educational settings around the world. Her studies with us and with Child and Youth care inspired her to start a non-profit business which offers support services to disadvantaged youth.

Photograph of Kathryn Church and Sophia Owenya
Sophia Owenya winner of the Harry E. Foster Memorial Award with Kathryn Church.

Sophia Owenya is a teacher and educational assistant from Windsor Essex who has spent more than 20 years providing support to children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Involved with charity organizations locally and internationally, she has done volunteer work in Rwanda and Tanzania. She is passionate about Disability Studies and determined to complete the program on schedule. This award upholds her hopes.

photograph of Michael Foulkes and Nicole Cadwallader
Nicole Cadwallader winner of the Beth Foulkes Award in Community Living with Michael Foulkes.

Nicole Cadwallader: In her application, Nicole tells us that Disability Studies has shaken her world. She started this program with zero knowledge about disability as social and political – but after three years, she is critically examining the world through potent new theoretical lenses. She works in the educational sector where disabled children and their families are still fighting for their rights. She knows what it is like to question the programs and systems that employ her but this program has given her tools to analyze how those systemic issues are being created. This award supports Nicole’s refusal to accept educational gaps as “normal” – and her pursuit of purposeful education for disabled students.

photograph of Peter Tench and Melissa Rideout
Melissa Rideout winner of the Karen Tench Award in Community Inclusion and Advocacy with Peter Tench.

Melissa Rideout: For the past four years, Melissa has worked as a Teaching Assistant for the Peel District School Board. She came to Disability Studies to increase her knowledge and become a better advocate, to know how to speak back to demeaning comments in the face of the powers that teachers wield in classrooms. As her course work deepens, she reports that she is “gaining backbone”, getting fueled up to be the advocate she wants to be. She has learned that being a disability advocate means you are an advocate for every race, class and gender. She writes: “The job I may get after this program is not as important as the knowledge I foster and the leader I become.”

Photograph of Miriam Edelson and Francis Pineda
Francis Pineda winner of the Jake Edelson Award in Community Organizing with Miriam Edelson.

Francis Pineda: From first-hand experience as a racialized student, Francis can testify to the barriers that students face in completing post-secondary education – starting with high tuition fees. For several years he has been active in student politics and marked his third term with the Continuing Education Students’ of Ryerson by being elected its president. Through a range of collective projects, he tries to center marginalized voices such as those of disabled students. In Disability Studies, Francis finds support for deconstructing, challenging and unpacking the dominant system. His engagement in this program is shifting the pathway he will take after graduation.

Photograph of Miriam Edelson with Darlene Murrain.
Darlene Murrain winner of the Jake Edelson Award in Community Ogranizing with Miriam Edelson.

Darlene Murrain: Darlene has always wanted to be involved in community organizing for the inclusion of disabled people. Her final independent study was about placing disabled people in the anti-black racism movement. But Darlene’s big aha! moment was learning about Inclusive Design from Charles Silverman in DST 614. “That was it”, she writes, “I had found my calling!” Now, as a graduate, she feels that she has tangible ways to apply her learnings. Her aspiration is to follow her passion by pursuing graduate studies in the field of Universal Design and education.

Photograph of Ron Goldsmith, Maggi Redmonds and Meghan Hogg.
Meghan Hogg, winner of the Bill and Lucille Owen Award in Public Policy, with Ron Goldsmith and Maggi Redmonds.

After a decade in the sector, Meghan Hogg is grounded in a feminist social justice approach to counselling and support in response to violence against women. In 2009-10, for Nellie’s Shelter, she co-researched and wrote a position paper on the intersections of trauma and violence, picking up on the ways that women’s voices and experiences are pathologised through systemic medicalized responses to trauma. In conference presentations and training workshops she draws upon the work of Mad activists/scholars, and describes the conversations that ensue as “sticky, profound, emotional, illuminating and deeply relevant” for professional practice.

Photograph of Marsha Ryan with Ron Goldsmith and Maggi Redmonds
Marsha Ryan, winner of the Bill and Lucille Owen Award in Public Policy with Ron Goldsmith and Maggi Redmonds.

Marsha Ryan: Originally from Moldova, Marsha brings to Disability Studies a political consciousness drawn from the confluence of Romanian, Ukrainian and Russian identities, languages and cultures. In Canada, Disability Studies has become her second home – a place where she encounters people who demonstrate leadership around injustice in a complex world. Last year, for her final independent study, Marsha spent most of the winter shadowing AODA activist David Lepofsky in his relentless pursuit of a provincial Educational Accessibility Standard. Using visual mapping, word walls and Twitter analytics, she teased out the ways that he builds community, shapes and disseminates ideas towards a more inclusive society.

Paris Master-McRae with Marsha Ryan.
Paris Master-McRae with Marsha Ryan.

KATHRYN: Disability Studies has an active Student Advisory Committee working with Kim Collins, our Student Engagement Facilitator to demonstrate community engagement strategies for/amongst part-time learners at a distance. This year, the committee wishes to recognize Paris Master-McRae for her powerful contribution to their work and the life of the School. Marsha Ryan will speak for the committee.

MARSHA: Paris Master-McRae is the gold standard when it comes to the School of Disability Studies. She knows the system from within. She knows it both as the Student Affairs Coordinator and as a program student, now Graduate and Alumni, Class of 2015. She is also an award winner, the recipient of the Malcolm Jeffreys Leadership Award. To Paris, “disability studies is not just a job or a program it is a community, a family.” She is a change-maker and a tireless advocate for values of the school, faculty and university. Guided by the Disability Studies motto “Vision. Passion. Action” her day-to-day work propels the work of equity, inclusion, and diversity. She will do whatever it takes and more to support staff, faculty and students, to offer encouragement and to explore new ideas. Paris’s welcoming smile, infectious laughter and open door create an environment that cultivates collegiality, camaraderie and solidarity in seeking disability justice.

 

Photograph of Rukiyah Ghani with Melodie Cook
Rukiyah Ghani, winner of the Malcolm Jeffreys Memorial Leadership Award, with Melodie Cook.

Rukiyah Ghani: Rukiyah is a first generation post-secondary student whose experiences reflect the challenges and joys of both immigration and disability. Close in age, Rukiyah and her brother navigate their community together, as he faces both discrimination and institutionalization. Much of her knowledge and skill in disability advocacy is gained from this lived experience. An accomplished student, she makes powerful links between the classroom, community and professional practice. Described as “exceptional” by her instructors, she is serving as a member of School Council where we benefited from her gentle intelligence.

Laura Mele with Melodie Cook.
Laura Mele, winner of the Malcolm Jeffreys Memorial Leadership Award, with Melodie Cook.

Laura Mele: Laura’s application came in with two shining letters of reference: one from the mother of a young woman who is designated Medically Fragile and with whom Laura has worked for 18 years. The other came from Dr. Chelsea Jones, an instructor in our program who writes that “Laura’s work revolves around the task of improving the lives of others – from small gestures to large strides in various fields of study.” A resident of Sarnia, Laura identifies as a disabled rural woman, and often pulls the geographic peripheries into class discussion. She is making her mark through participation on the Student Advisory Committee and relationship-building in its many projects.

David Reville with Dawnmarie Herriott.
David Reville with Dawnmarie Herriott.

DAVID: In its attempts to “change the conversation” around mental health, Disability Studies at Ryerson links social movement issues and actions with the fresh scholarship of Mad Studies. To mark my 70th birthday, some friends paid the tuition fees for someone to take Mad People’s History – the course that I helped to create and taught here for many years. That gesture has become a yearly ritual as has the involvement of Working for Change, the community organization from which the recipient is selected and where I am pleased to be a member of the board.

We regret to tell you that last year’s recipient, Adrienne Mageenis, passed away this year. Adrienne was a graduate of the Women Speak Out Leadership Training course at Working for Change and a passionate advocate on issues related to mental health. She participated on numerous committees and Boards of Directors for non-profit mental health agencies. She was very committed to furthering her education in the field of mental health. Our community misses her strong voice, perspectives and wisdom.

This year’s recipient is Desiree Bowen. Desiree is a graduate of En Route to Employment and is now working as a Program Assistant at the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health CAMH. She has a keen interest in Peer Work. Mad People’s History will provide her with a strong background and understanding of the history of the survivor movement.

Erin Poudrier with her children and Lindsay Campbell.
Erin Poudrier, winner of the Helen Henderson Writing for Disability Activism Award, with her children and Lindsay Campbell.

Erin Poudrier: Erin graduated this Spring. In reflecting on her time in the program, she is most proud of her development as an academic writer. Her application included course papers on cultural representation, and bioethics, as well as her final independent study titled Precarious Terrain: Narratives of American Sign Language Interpreters. She explained that her disability consciousness “did not happen overnight. Rather it was a journey through reading and writing about learning” with feedback from professors that overcame her skepticism and uncertainty. Erin had the pleasure to get to know Helen in the summer of 2014 when they both took the community building course.” I am thrilled to accept”, she wrote. “I feel truly honored to receive this award in Helen’s name.”

Maria Tersea Larrian  with Robert Hardie with Cole Bonathan
Maria Tersea Larrian, winner of the Emma Hardie International Disability Award with Robert Hardie with Cole Bonathan.

Maria Teresa Larrain: A mature student in our program, Maria Teresa is a Chilean Canadian film-maker and community organizer. She has just released Shadow Girl, a film that follows her journey into blindness and her encounter with a group of blind Chilean street vendors from whom she learns a different way to look and to see. Maria spent several years making this film – some of it shot on the Ryerson campus during one of our summer institutes – and much of the past year in its international promotion. The film has been recognized by the Circle of Chilean Art Critics (Best Documentary), DIVA Film Festival (Best Film, Best Director, Best Sound), FEDOCHI Film Festival (Best National Documentary), DocsBarcelona Valparaiso Festival (Best National Film Audience Award), FIDOCS Film Festival (Audience Award) and the Vogyakarta Film Festival (Special Jury Award). We are so pleased in Emma’s memory to recognize Maria Teresa and to support her ongoing work.

Jerusalem Bet with Melanie Panitch and Deirdre Boyle.
Jerusalem Bete, winner of the David and Sylvia Pollock Entrance Award with Melanie Panitch and Deirdre Boyle.

Jerusalem Bete:  A recent graduate of the Developmental Service Worker program at Centennial College, Jerusalem is looking to increase her knowledge and her impact as a worker. Member of a family who migrated from Ethiopia, she and a brother who is autistic grew up in the diverse Toronto neighborhood of Flemingdon Park. She knows the many challenges that racialized disabled people face in life. With educational challenges herself, she is keen to expand her capacities to support others.

Hedy Ng (not present): Resident of Markham, Ontario, Hedy works as an Adult Education Literacy Program Assistant. Unable to complete her early studies, she is now a single parent raising a son who has been diagnosed with ASD. She regained her educational pathway by taking any seminars or class she could find. Her path to our program began with the Accessibility Practices Certificate which, after seven courses, she used as a platform for launching into program admission. Great stamina, Hedy.

John Okot, with Melanie Panitch and Deirdre Boyle.
John Okot, winner of the David and Sylvia Pollock Entrance Award with Melanie Panitch and Deirdre Boyle.

John Okot: Following his completion of the Developmental Service Worker diploma at Fanshawe College in London, John comes to us with a strong desire for further education and a broader range of job opportunities. Prior to returning to school in 2013, he drove transport truck for almost eight years – which was a living but one that did not allow him to make the kind of difference he wants to in other people’s lives. One of his long-term goals is to use the skills he develops to educate young people in his country of origin, South Sudan, Africa.

Ann Beatty with Celeste Richards.
Ann Beatty, winner of the Canadian Foundation for Physically Disabled Persons Disability Studies Award, with Celeste Richards.

Ann Beatty: With connections to disability in her personal life and her job as a support worker, Ann enjoys learning new theoretical frameworks, risking challenging topics, connecting her coursework with her personal life and generally thinking through the complexities of how disability is understood in society. Since 2005 when she started the program, she has completed nearly all of the DST courses and is poised to begin her final independent study towards degree completion in April 2018. Having faced challenges as a working student, this award will provide very meaningful assistance to her in completing her studies.

Christina Devlin with Celeste Richards.
Christina Devlin, winner of the Canadian Foundation for Physically Disabled Persons Disability Studies Award with Celeste Richards.

Christina Devlin: Christina started her Disability Studies program in 2014 as a self-advocate who was running a support group for Autism Ontario (London chapter). Being a co-researcher on Esther’s parenting possibilities research introduced her to Disability Studies and this program has given her greater confidence as an autistic person living in a neurotypical-dominated society. Christina draws direct connections between course materials, assignments and her growing activism including leadership with a grassroots, intersectional, user-led, peer support and advocacy organization that is run collectively by autistic people. She is headed into Research Methods this fall, pressing towards degree completion and savoring a dream to work for the Ontario Human Rights Commission.

Andriano Aguiar  with Esther Ignagni.
Andriano Aguiar, winner of the Nancy C. Sprott Disability Studies Award with Esther Ignagni.

Adriano Aguiar – Life measured in feet: An arts-informed inquiry

Linh Chau with Kathryn Church.
Linh Chau, winner of the Nancy C. Sprott Disability Studies Award, with Kathryn Church.

Linh Chau – Illness and disability in the workplace: Living the organizational experience

Nadia Lembo, , with Kathryn Church.
Nadia Lembo, winner of the Nancy C. Sprott Disability Studies Award, with Kathryn Church.

Nadia Lembo – Disability as a story that connects us: Exploring the impact of narrative moments

Karine Roy – (not present ) Critical Discourse Analysis of InVitro Fertilization (IVF): “Your embryos are not grade A”!

Brittany Van Beilen with Esther Ignagni.
Brittany Van Beilen, winner of the Nancy C. Sprott Disability Studies Award, with Esther Ignagni.

Brittany Van Beilen – ABLLS-R Activated: The invisible connections within ABA: An institutional ethnography

Photograph of all award winners
Congratulations to all the 2017 Disability Studies Award winners.
photograph of all of the donors
Thank you to all of the donors who make these awards possible.
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Disability Studies Awards Applications

Mrs. M.K. Chant stands with the six  recipients of the 2001 MK Chant Awards: Grace Rees, Nicole Fordyce, Nola Millin, Kim Morgan-Deriet, Amrita Mulchand and Serena Brown.
Mrs. M.K. Chant stands with the six recipients of the 2001 MK Chant Awards: Grace Rees, Nicole Fordyce, Nola Millin, Kim Morgan-Deriet, Amrita Mulchand and Serena Brown.

There are several Disability Studies awards available to help cover the cost of pursuing your education while highlighting your work and activism.

Here are some helpful tips to consider when applying for awards.

  1. Let your personality shine through. The people on the awards committee probably do not know you. Let them get to know you through your application. Applications don’t need to be as stuffy and formal as you might think. In fact, the more the awards committee can see your personality the more likely they are to remember you.
  2. Thoroughly read and respond to the award outline. All awards applications will list the criteria for how they are award recipients are determined. Read this very carefully. Read it several times. And speak to those points. If the award criteria asks for examples of commitment to activism; list your volunteer or paid work, blogs you have written, committees you are on, activist events you have attended, or other ways you engage with activism. Once you start writing it out, you will realize that you have done a lot more than you thought.
  3. Get started early. It’s a good idea to search out awards and start thinking about them long before they are due.  Check if the awards require letters of recommendations and ask for them early. It’s best not to wait until the week before.
  4. Proof-read.  Read over your application. Have someone else do it. Your application is representing you in that awards committee meeting so put your best foot or paragraph forward.
  5. If you don’t succeed, try, try again. It’s a statistical impossibility for you to win every award that you apply for. That doesn’t mean that you should throw in the towel. It could mean that there were other more qualified people who applied, or perhaps you need to re-evaluate your application. Use the experience to help you succeed next time.
  6. Be thankful. When you receive an award be thankful. Write a letter of thank you to the person, organization or family who donated the money for the award. The award donors want to get to know you and see where their donations are going.

Good Luck everyone!