Busting Barriers to Accessibility the Focus of Celebration at MITT

Originally posted: May 31, 2017

Busting Barriers to Accessibility the Focus of Celebration at MITT

Hundreds of students and staff joined guests from government and the community for a special event, on Friday, May 26, celebrating inclusivity, accessibility, and diversity at MITT.

The occasion marked a grant MITT received through the Rick Hansen Foundation’s ACCESS4ALL Program for its Barrier Buster project “Pathways toward an accessible campus community.” The project involved the installation of push-button activated automatic doors for washroom and exterior entrances throughout MITT’s Henlow and Pembina campus facilities. The ACCESS4ALL Program is a Canada 150 Signature Initiative and, as such, received support from the federal government.

Elder Mae Louise Campbell opened the event with insightful reflections on inclusivity, before offering a traditional blessing upon the ceremony.

“The Medicine Wheel has included all people since the beginning of time,” said Elder Mae Louise. “We all have wisdom. We are all teachers, we are all learners, and we must learn from the true spirit and from the heart of being truly human. It is crucial that we do more and more of this [to create] a more balanced and harmonious world.”

A beautiful hoop dance performance by Emilie McKinney, who previously took trades exploration at MITT while she was a secondary student within the division scolaire franco-manitobaine, followed Elder Mae Louise’s remarks. From there, MITT Interim President and CEO, Ray Karasevich, thanked the Rick Hansen Foundation and the federal government for their support, and affirmed MITT’s commitment to creating a more inclusive, accessible, and diverse campus community through the completion of its Accessibility Plan, in compliance with the Accessibility for Manitobans Act.

“Just as we have evolved our training model to meet the needs of industry and of Manitoba, we will evolve our understanding and our practices when it comes to creating an inclusive, accessible and diverse campus community,” said Karasevich.

Darrin Luke, Rick Hansen Foundation Ambassador for Manitoba, helped frame the work of the Foundation through the lens of a person with a disability. Luke battled cancer at age 10 and it eventually left him paralyzed from the ribcage down. However, he never stopped chasing his dreams – including completing multiple degrees at university – or pursuing his love for sport (Luke is today a sledge hockey player, he water skis and he has completed three half-marathons). Advice from mentors, including Rick Hansen, whom he met while he was in hospital as a kid, gave Luke the confidence to chase his potential and his message to the crowd about accessibility was succinct, yet powerful: “It’s an amazing world. If we can open it to everybody, it becomes even more amazing.”

Member of Parliament for Winnipeg South, Mr. Terry Duguid, spoke about the significance of Canada’s 150th and how it is a year for celebration but also for continued reconciliation. He offered greeting in no less than a half dozen languages, to the delight of the audience, and of MITT’s campus community, he had this to say, “Whenever I come to MITT, I see the face of Canada.”

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