CONCESSION, N.S. - A resident of Concession who helped draft the Nova Scotia Accessibility Act is proud of a recent award and the progress his group has made towards human rights and social justice.
Claredon Robicheau is part of the Bill 59 Community Alliance group that recently received a 2017 Nova Scotia Human Rights Award. Bill 59 Community Alliance was recognized for its advocacy for the rights of persons with disabilities throughout the province in the Group/Organization category.
“This award is great recognition for the many hours we put as a team towards getting it right,” he said.
Each year, the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission recognizes Nova Scotians nominated by their peers for work in the field of human rights, social justice and advocacy. Recipients of the 2017 Nova Scotia Human Rights Awards were honoured at a ceremony Dec. 8 at Citadel High School in Halifax.
Robicheau said the Bill 59 Community Alliance was formed about a year ago and is supported by 35 organizations representing all disabilities. He said the Alliance was invited by the Province of Nova Scotia to help draft the Nova Scotia Accessibility Act.
“For those who do not have a voice I am glad to be a part of the upcoming changes this act will bring…This act is a good seed to start implementing real change towards respecting the human rights of all persons with disabilities in N.S.''
The goal of the act is to make the province fully accessible by 2030. It is the third such act in Canada.
Robicheau, who is also chair of the Nova Scotia League for Equal Opportunities, said a few focus areas for accessibility include access to transportation, education and employment.
“For many, these barriers are severe enough to create isolation, poor health and loss of dignity…There is many statistics out there but the one that sticks out is the if you are living with a disability you are 50 per cent more likely to live in poverty. This is very wasteful opportunism considering all the abilities many have, who could be contributing socially and economically to our province.”
As a wheelchair user himself, Robicheau said standing up for accessibility is not only about human rights now, but also about creating a better future.
“It’s the amount of people with disabilities,” he said. “Nova Scotia has the highest percentage in Canada at 21 per cent. With the aging population it’s going to increase.
“We need to get ready now for that but also the existing people with disabilities need to have equal opportunity to participate in society economically and socially.”
Robicheau added that he is excited to partner with municipalities such as Digby and Clare to improve accessibility.
“I look forward to taking the standards that are going to be invented, the regulations and good ideas and bring it to the local communities.”
Gerry Post, executive director of the Accessibility Directorate, said the Bill 59 Community Alliance is made up of, “an incredible group of citizens”.
“It was a most rewarding process that was supported by all political parties,” he said in an email. “Human rights does/should not have political boundaries. Very proud of our Provincial Legislature.”