Self advocates lobby for change

Community Living BC advocates Linda Evans, her son William Evans and 100 Mile House's Dianne Bob contribute to their communities.

Angie Mindus

Staff Writer

By anyone’s standards, Community Living BC advocates Linda Evans, her 21-year-old son William Evans and 100 Mile House resident Dianne Bob are active, contributing members of their communities.

All three hold down several part-time jobs, live independently and manage to volunteer in many positions on top of that, including their roles as self advocates.

The three took centre stage last week at Axis Family Resources where their intended audience was Don McRae, minister of social development and social innovation, and Cariboo Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett.

Neither politician made the appointment, however, staff from Williams Lake Association for Community Living (WLACL), Community Living BC as well as staff from Axis were happy to listen to the trio tell their stories and witness the importance of them being included as apart of the community.

Linda Evans has worked as a self advocate for years, planning and attending conferences across the province to network and bring about change for those with intellectual disabilities.

Evans was married 13 years and had two boys, however, her husband passed away in 2003, leaving her a single mother.

Evans lives independently with support from Community Living, and holds down two jobs as well as her volunteer work.

“Linda is a very reliable, excellent worker and is very busy,” said WLACL staffer Laura Klassen, who works with Evans.

William Evans is following in his mother’s footsteps as a self advocate.

He is also busy working at Community Futures and the share shed, as well as volunteering at the Salvation Army and Senior’s bingo on Fridays.

When questioned about whether they liked to volunteer their time or get paid, they all shared a laugh and said of course they preferred to get paid just like anyone else.

“There is lots of value in work,” said Dianne Bob, also a self advocate.

Klassen said people with intellectual disabilities are still discriminated against in their communities, including right here in Williams Lake.

“People with disabilities have been segregated from society for hundreds of years,” said Klassen.

“What we’re trying to do is make a change in the community … there needs to be more education.”

According to Klassen, a big step towards equality for all, includes equal pay for all.

“They want to work and they want to be paid properly.”

Employment will be the emphasis of a new pilot project planned for this area in the coming months, with the goal of 100 more people with disabilities gaining employment.

Community Living BC has programs in place to support clients through the job search process, right through to on-the-job coaching.