Local Residents Launch Non-profit to Help People with Disabilities with Human Rights Claims
VICTORIA, BC – Local residents, Graeme McCreath, Susan Simmons and David Willows have joined forces and founded a non-profit society advocating for accesses for people with disabilities. With the assistance of their legal-councel, Umar Sheikh, the paperwork was filed with BC Registries on February 27, 2023.
McCreath, a blind Victoria resident is not new to the tribunal process. He recently provided testimony for the Canadian Federation of the Blind, arguing safety concerns when crossing the marked crosswalk along the bike lane to access transit stops. Although the Tribunal acknowledged the danger of floating bus stops between the bike lanes and the road were discriminatory, simply adding an audible flashing-light to the crosswalk over the bike lanes does not remove the dangerous barrier. The seven principles of Universal Design would have avoided the installation of these discriminatory bus stops. The inability to hear a cyclist adjacent to a busy road places unnecessary risk of injury to blind transit users.
Simmons and Willows are also not new to the process. The two worked with Sheihk to launch a class-action complaint against the city for removing access to Beacon Hill Park for people with disabilities. The complaint has been accepted by the Human Rights Tribunal with the tribunal imminent.
Willows, who is the father to a child with multiple disabilities had his eyes opened to the myriad of barriers faced by people very day in a world he previously thought was accessible. He has worked with governments at all levels to improve policy, design standards, and ultimately his community, improving the lives of many disabled Canadians.
Simmons, who has a disability herself and is the President of the MS Wellness Centre for Vancouver Island and swim coach to the Spirit Orcas and Special Olympics, is concerned with the direction she sees the City Victoria is taking when it comes to accessibility. “The City needs to do more to align to the Accessible British Columbia Act and the BC Human Rights Code. When they don’t It’s Your Right will be here to help others navigate the tribunal system” Simmons said.
Sheikh, who has been instrumental in helping the three establish the It’s Your Right believes “Equity in the delivery of public services is paramount to a free and fair society. We must continually be vigilant and fight for the right of all to be equal, or we risk classism, racism and ableism to rise and erode all that we have fought so hard to achieve. Who we chose to leave behind is a reflection of who we are and to fight for those left behind is a reflection of who we want to become.”
For more information contact
itsyourrightbc @ gmail.com