The Independence Workshop Series

05 Oct, 2022 - 07 Dec, 2022

ABLE2 and DANEO are pleased to offer this series exploring the theme How Can I live independently when I need others for support?

The series is intended for people with disabilities, their family, caregivers and professionals. The topics explore the idea of independence and support networks, for people with disabilities that often rely on others and paid supports in their everyday life. Each session will include guests, reflective discussion and exercises so participants can leave with thoughtful actions items related to living independently with support.

ABLE2 is a small but powerful charity with a big purpose. We are the only organization in Ottawa that supports people of all ages across the disability spectrum and their families to live life as valued members of our city.

DANEO is a local family network that advocates for the rights of citizens labelled with an intellectual/developmental disability to have access to the same opportunities and choices as other Ontarians.

These sessions will be held in person and virtually. Choose to attend either way.

Sign up for one session or for all of them today. Come back to see updated information as guest speakers are confirmed.

Session 1: October 5 – Independent Facilitation and Building Independence

Does independence mean living alone? Does it mean total freedom? Independence means something different for everyone. Come and hear what self-advocates, families and caregivers have to say about living independently and reflect on what independence means to you.

Independence means something different for everyone. We start our series with a panel of individuals / self-advocates with lived experience who’ll talk about their view on independence.

Our guest moderator will explore the ideas of independence and interdependence and what this might look like for people with disabilities.

Guest moderator: Josée Boulanger, PhD 

Josée is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Ottawa’s School of Rehabilitation Sciences. As part of her doctoral research in Interdisciplinary Rehabilitation Sciences, she used audio/visual methods to explore a good life and meaningful participation in research with people labelled with an intellectual disability who face significant barriers to communication. She is also currently teaching students labelled with an intellectual disability at La Cité. Her experience as a sibling propelled her to do a master’s in Disability Studies and to work alongside self-advocates to co-create The Freedom Tour documentary. She also takes part in various advocacy efforts such as DANEO and the ARCH Disability Law Centre’s Respecting Rights group. Josée is interested in creative, critical and collaborative research and practices that generate new insights into human experiences and promote equality and social justice. 

Come reflect on with independence means to you and meet our panelists to hear what they have to say.

Session 2: October 26 – Independent Facilitation and Building Independence

This session will explain Independent Facilitation and how it can be used to help you define what independence means for you and how you can build the support to make it happen.

Anna has been in a relationship with and professionally supporting people living with disabilities in a variety of capacities for over 20 years. Currently, Anna is teaching Person-Directed Planning in the Developmental Service Worker program at Centennial College and works as the Manager of Planning and Facilitation at Partners for Planning.  Anna is also excited to be part of the launch of the online network, the Planning and Facilitation Collaborative- a new opportunity to support and grow the field of planners and facilitators working in person-directed ways. Anna belongs to the circles of support of a few close friends, and this offers an opportunity to stay grounded in the work as well as build a deep knowledge of how circles function and how the relationships within them support people towards achieving a good life rooted in their community. Anna is a proud mom of 3 and lives in Markham, ON.

Guest Speaker: Anna Bruno

Session 3: November 9 – Building Support Networks

What is a support network and how do I create one? Learn from families and persons with disabilities about how they set up and are working with their support network to develop independence. An opportunity to discuss concerns, fears and challenges around building a network and exchange tips and experiences.

What is a support network and how do I create one? Learn from local families and persons with disabilities about how they set up and are working with their support network to develop independence. An opportunity to discuss concerns, fears and challenges around building a network and exchange tips and experiences.

Guest moderator: Kelly Howson. MSW, RSW

Kelly has been a Social Worker for over 30 years and has worked in various sectors, including child welfare, mental health and substance use, disability, and now the homelessness sector.   Currently, she works as the Manager of Housing First, at Options Bytown Non-Profit Housing Corporation.  Kelly works from a client-centred perspective and believes that problems just need a new and creative approach to find solutions. 

We are fortunate to have Kelly moderating the panel as she brings a wealth of experience relevant to the creation and sustaining of support networks.

Session 4: November 23 – Microboards and Building Independence

A Microboard is a group of committed family and friends who join together with a person who has a disability to create a supportive not-for-profit corporation.

Guest moderator: Karen Bell

Karen joined Microboards Ontario this past April as its first Executive Director. She has over twenty years’ experience in progressive positions in the developmental services sector,. She held senior positions in strategic planning and communications at Community Living Toronto  She is a passionate, community-minded leader who brings an empathetic and focused approach to her work. With an extensive background in government relations, community engagement, and strategic and operational planning, Karen has a deep belief in inclusion and equity, and has demonstrated a commitment to innovation and collaboration. 

Karen will be joined by Rob Hickey, a parent who has created a Microboard for his daughter, and Xavier Noordermeer, Secretary of Microboards Ontario who has been an active part of the growth of Microboards or Aroha, in Ontario.

Final Session: December 7 – How to make the most of my support network 

What role can a support network play relative to independence? We will be talking about the power of relationships, and the intentionality of belonging.

Guest speaker: Janet Klees

Janet is the Executive Director of the Durham Association for Family Resources and Support, a family-centred resource and support for families interested in building good, ordinary lives in community for and with their family members with a disability.  Janet has presented her empowering ideas to Ottawa region families over the past 10 years.  Her work with the Deohaeko group focussed on the power of relationships in building and reinforcing valued social roles for individuals in community.

Janet’s ideas and focus on building a good life in community have made her a valued speaker nationally and internationally. We are privileged to have her come to speak, once again, to families in our region, about how families, friends and community work together to support an individual in building a good life.

Who should attend?
Professionals, caregivers, parents of those with disabilities, people with disabilities

Workshop Details

Facilitators: Hélène Courchesne & Minda Bojin

Day & Date: 

  • October 5 – What Independence Means to Me
  • October 26 – Independent Facilitation and Building Independence
  • November 9 – Building Support Networks
  • November 23 – Microboards and Building Independence
  • December 7 – How to make the most of my support network

Time: 6:30 – 8:00 pm

Cost: $10 per person

Venue: 312 Parkdale Avenue, Ottawa ON – Meeting Room Number will be sent via email 2 days before workshop.  Participants can also join virtually.

Registration: Please register using the link below. Prior to the workshop, all registered participants will be sent details of the in-person venue and a Zoom link to access the workshop virtually.

NOTE: Registration closes at 5:00 pm on the date of the workshop. No registrations will be accepted after that time.

Presented in part by:


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