2018 SARC Spring Conference
07 Jun 2018
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SARC’s annual Spring Conference held in Regina on May 28 and 29, 2018, hosted close to 270 Disability Service Professionals from across the province to learn, share, and network with one another.  We were so glad to have such a large crowd attend to help us celebrate SARC’s 50th Anniversary!

To open the conference, we were thrilled to have Minister Merriman bring greetings on behalf of the Ministry of Social Services, and to officially proclaim May 28-June 1 as Disability Service Professionals Week! Judge David Arnot, Chief Commissioner of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission, also brought greetings and spoke to the crowd about how disability rights have evolved over the years (SHRC also set up a great display illustrating this evolution in the exhibitor area).

Kara Stanley, Simon Paradis, & Joe Stanton
SHRC's timeline on the evolution of disability rights
Minister Paul Merriman
Chief Commissioner David Arnot

Conference attendees enjoyed a musical opening keynote presentation by Kara Stanley and Stanton-Paradis who, through music, shared the experience of Simon Paradis, who was injured in a workplace accident, and how music helped in his recovery. This touching presentation was a wonderful way to start our conference.  

After a celebratory lunch for DSP Week, conference participants took in their choice of four concurrent sessions. John Lagimodiere spoke on Aboriginal awareness, Darren Lang shared tools and strategies on how to beat stress, Sean McEwen shared his knowledge on how organizations can become the resource that the business community needs when referring to supported employment, and Dave Hingsburger addressed how to support people experiencing disability to be safe and know their rights.

Day two brought the second set of current sessions on caring for the caregiver with Rebecca Rockaw, Jennifer Sanford showed attendees how to strengthen their decision making under stress, Jamie Pope shared her knowledge on trauma- informed care, and Angela Irvine discussed how to have authentic social relationships and inclusion with people experiencing disability.

After lunch, there was one more concurrent session for attendees to choose from. Dave Hingsburger presented on how we can support people experiencing disability with social relationships, sexual relationships, and friendships; how organizations can have a people-first culture with Jennifer Sanford; leadership and networking for inclusion of people experiencing disability in the workplace with Sean McEwen; and Sheila Reynolds, supported by Wanda Sweatman, shared her courageous story on surviving a fire at a group home, discussing how it affected her, the people living in the home, and the organization as well as the journey beyond this traumatic event.

Sean McEwen 
Wanda Sweatman & Sheila Reynolds

To close the conference, Dave Hingsburger shared his stories and left us with his perspective on why 50 years matters. Dave shared some of his own experiences as a direct support professional over the years. 











From his first experiences in the sector just coming out of school and working in an institution to how people experiencing disability are living now, a lot has changed in terms of the types of supports and services that people receive.

Compared to the services that are offered now, it’s hard to think about the isolated lives people experiencing disability were living decades ago. Through his stories of people expressing their loneliness in a variety of ways, he explains that these behaviours were a communication on how people experiencing disability envisioned their futures. “You see, fifty years ago, we took people out of the community, we took people out of their homes, we took people out of their families and we placed them away.  We placed them at the margins of society. Jailed for the crime of difference. People lived lives of quiet desperation. And yet, with their behaviours and with their means of communication that they had, they let us know what they wanted.  They were able to envision a future that we were not able to see. They envisioned their future as being a place of connection, and a place of family, and a place of community, and a place of freedom.  They could see the world they wanted, but we at that point had no understanding.” 
Dave ended with a very powerful message to the audience, sharing that people working in the sector are responsible for the civil liberties movement and have a responsibility for the continued progress of equality, dignity, and respect for people experiencing disability. “Now it is our job to use our influence in any way we can by respectful treatment in public forums of people with disabilities to confront the prejudice that people carry. We are involved in a civil liberties movement. Every single one of you may support people with disabilities, but you also support civil rebellion against people with disabilities being treated as less than human. This is what we do. This is where we are and this is where we have arrived.  And isn’t it an exciting time to be in service.”
Dave Hingsburger

We couldn’t have asked for a better way to not only sum up why celebrating 50 years is so important, but also inspire our audience during Disability Service Professionals Week to continue supporting people experiencing disability to live the lives they want to live.  If you were unable to attend the Spring Conference, we shared Dave’s presentation on Facebook Live and you can find the video on the SARC Facebook Page.


Thanks to all who came out to celebrate our 50th Anniversary and Disability Service Professionals Week. Thanks to our sponsors, Move Mobility and Worksafe Saskatchewan. Without your sponsorship, we would not have been able to provide such quality expert speakers again this year. See you next year in Saskatoon!

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