Ontario's David C. Onley Award Recipients
The David C. Onley Award for Leadership in Accessibility, established in 2014, recognizes the outstanding work of individuals and organizations that have demonstrated leadership in supporting awareness of accessibility issues in Ontario.
This year'se recipients are:
Employee Engagement Award: Linda Niksic, Ottawa
Linda Niksic is a senior advisor at Natural Resources Canada. At the time of Linda's nomination, she supported the deputy minister responsible for public servants with disabilities in the federal public service. Throughout her career, she has been influential in educating federal government staff, both public servants and political employees, on the challenges that people with disabilities face and the contributions they make to the workplace. Her well-known people-focused approach to program design includes consulting with people with disabilities right from the start. Doing this means the results will reflect what's relevant. Linda's subtle diplomacy has earned her the respect of policy and lawmakers alike. Her expertise is valuable in legislation designed to remove barriers for people with disabilities.
Role Model Award: Michael Mulligan, London
Michael Mulligan's goal, since becoming an quadriplegic at the age 16, has been to help anyone with any physical disability learn how to transcend their own perceived limitations. Toward that goal, he started the Moving Forward Rehabilitation and Wellness Centre in London, Ontario. He helped design the facility to assist people with disabilities to retrain their neurological system and get back as much movement as possible. Mike is also actively involved with Western University, helping nursing students understand the role of nurses during the recovery process for people with disabilities. Mike volunteers with the March of Dimes, serving as the master of ceremonies for the 2018 March of Dimes Canada Opening Doors for Accessibility conference series and is at the forefront of fundraising and peer support initiatives. An engineer by trade, Mike helped design his own fully accessible home, which he opens to the public for training and educational purposes.
Youth Leadership Award: Dylan Itzikowitz, Thornhill
While in hospital recovering from a life-threatening accident, Dylan Itzikowitz established The Forward Movement initiative to challenge ableism in Ontario. One key tool was a new Dynamic Symbol of Access (DSA). The symbol represents movement and the need to remove barriers people with disabilities experience. In the two years since his accident, Dylan has established partnerships with all levels of government and engaged community leaders to support The Forward Movement and the DSA symbol. The DSA symbol is now being used in several cities across the province. Dylan is also a sought-after speaker on disability issues.
Champion Award: The City of Pickering The City of Pickering organized the Canada 150 Youth Forum: A Confederation Journey 1867-2067. This information and active living fair inspired more than 700 youth in the city to share ideas about how they can help make Pickering and Canada more inclusive and accessible in the future. The free event encouraged participants to start to think about how their future employment could be improved with efforts to make the province fully accessible. The full-day event also included career planning, 3D prosthetics printing, breakdancing performances and accessible sports activities.
Champion Award: The City of Vaughan The City of Vaughan implemented the first Innovative Path System (IPS) in Canada. The groundbreaking technology gives directions to people with vision loss. The system provides customized vocalized information through a phone app that can communicate with a cane. First available at Vaughan City Hall, IPS was also recently installed at Chancellor Community Centre.
Champion Award: The Heartwood House: Au coeur de la vie, Ottawa Heartwood House helps provide small, non-profit and charitable organizations with an accessible, affordable workplace. Its member organizations, which include literacy, housing and training groups, help residents in Ottawa, some of which are disadvantaged due to disabilities. The Heartwood House is a partner in the OC Transpo Lost and Found program, which reconnects customers on Ottawa's buses and trains with their lost items. The program hires people with disabilities to provide an opportunity to develop customer service, computer and leadership skills in a supportive work environment.
Champion Award: The Hospitality Workers Training Centre, Toronto The Hospitality Workers Training Centre created its own disability inclusion advisory committee, which includes employer champions, to create a resource for the hospitality industry to support the hiring, retention and inclusion of people with disabilities in workplaces. The organization helps prevent barriers to gaining employment through actions such as providing an interpreter for the interview process.