100 Mile House is one of six communities receiving additional support for women with disabilities.
Pacific DAWN (DisAbled Women’s Network) received a grant from the Red Cross and will be holding a “Let’s Chat” group at the Stemete7uw’i Friendship Centre every Wednesday at 2 p.m., where they will talk about some of the things related to wildfires, as well as home safety with different guest speakers.
“It usually goes for about six weeks and then we start over again,” says Terry Tyab, the chair of Pacific Dawn and group meeting facilitator.
“A lot of times people with disabilities are kind of forgotten or kind of brushed out, like figuring they know what’s better for them. “
That’s reflected in their motto: nothing about us without us.
The meetings will be mostly to do with things disabled people find problematic in a community, says Tyab, adding that there are some places that don’t think of disabled people as people.
“One of the big things we help with is violence against women with disabilities. We like to have someone from Victim Services and a female police officer come and talk to our groups about violence against women and help with basic self-defence. It helps with low self-esteem. A lot of women with disabilities feel that they’re lucky they’ve got someone, even though they’re being abused.”
However, a lot of disabled women also live alone, she says.
“I went through quite a tragedy years ago when the fires came through. I was disabled more than I am now. I had to use my chair and I couldn’t even get out my front door without help. I dislocated my shoulder and my neighbours had to leave about two weeks early so I was stuck with nobody,” she says.
“Sure there was one volunteer who was willing to come and grab me and throw me on a bus to heck with my kids,” she says referring to her two cats.
A lot of people who are disabled live on their own and animals are good companions, she says.
It’s not the first time she’s organized these meetings. There were a few in the spring and those were quite successful with around a dozen people there, she says.
“To them, they know that they’re not excluded out of something just because they are disabled.”
Pacific Dawn offers resources for people with different kinds of disabilities, on their website, she says.
“There’s things for specific disabilities, there’s resources for not just around the area but other places. Pacific DAWN covers all of B.C. and the Yukon.”
Examples include links to transition houses and a safe home list, some academic research, epilepsy and the law, home security and more.
The meetings are open to all women with disabilities, and Tyab says people are never asked what their disability is. It’s also open to caregivers of women with disabilities, she says.
For more information, visit pacificdawn.ca or call 778-412-9622.
With files from Barbara Roden.