Taras Natyshak

WETRA receives Ontario150 Community Capital Program Funding to pave accessible parking spaces

 

 

By Jolene Perron

 

A grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation has allowed a local therapeutic riding association to pave accessible parking spaces for their clients.

Since the new facility was built in 2011, the gravel parking lot has posed many restrictions and hardships on the number of people the Windsor-Essex Therapeutic Riding Association services each week. When the facility was built, they ensured a portico was build so their clients families could pull up underneath it and drop off their client, however if there happen to be several families coming through at once, the portico got very congested, and staff noted the harsh winter conditions often made the gravel parking lot incredibly treacherous.

“The Ontario 150 Community Capital Program’s contribution to the project will allow over 200 people served here each week to safely park and exit their vehicles without the barrier of stones underneath walkers and wheelchairs as well as provide stability under foot for all who enjoy our equine therapy services,” explained Becky Mills, managing director, CTR11 and Path Intl., and certified instructor. “Our facility brings together volunteers, riders, caregivers and community members every day, and the new parking spaces will add a more inviting element to our center.”

Essex MPP Taras Natyshak (far left) was on hand to celebrate WETRA's recent Ontario Trillium Foundation grant that was used for parking lot upgrades.

Essex MPP Taras Natyshak (far left) was on hand to celebrate WETRA’s recent Ontario Trillium Foundation grant that was used for parking lot upgrades.

WETRA was founded in 1963 by Dr. Elmer Butt in Windsor. Mills explained he was a local radiologist and operated out of a small facility on five acres in Windsor, which is where WETRA remained until 2011. Once they had the opportunity to move into a new building and create a facility of 72 acres of land in the county, it was a no brainer. Since their build, they have been focusing on one project at a time.

“It’s amazing how accessibility can be granted by just a little bit of cement and lift the barrier the gravel driveway presented,” said Essex MPP Taras Natyshak. “For you to recognize that and to put together a plan with the Ontario Trillium Foundation, and your donors and volunteers, that goes a long way to ensure that this facility is accessible and puts your at the top as being champions in accessibility.”

Just 14,000 square feet of space was paved, and considering the overall size of their parking lot, Mills said it might not look like much but it came with a total price tag of $36,000. Of that, $26,000 was grant money and the additional $10,000 was raised through WETRA’s numerous initiatives such as selling t-shirts out of their facility.

The organizations services approximately 69 different diagnoses of people, and they are incredibly excited to have the opportunity to make accessibility easier for their clients.

“It’s the most rewarding job, I think,” said Mills. “I just get so much enjoyment and reward out of it. Even though I don’t get to be in the thick of the program the way I used to be as the head instructor, I’m away from that now, but I know this is a very vital part of the program and I still feel it’s very rewarding.”

Amherstburg celebrates Canada’s 150th birthday with awards, cake and fireworks

 

 

By Jolene Perron

 

The celebrations at Amherstburg’s Fort Malden National Park are always very much anticipated, however this year the addition of 150 CanDo Awards of Distinction attracted even more people to the waterfront to help celebrate Canada and all of the amazing people in our town who do greatness every day.

To kick off the opening ceremonies and awards portion of the celebration, Amherstburg Mayor Aldo DiCarlo read a letter from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“Dear Friends, I would like to congratulate everyone who is being presented with the CanDo 150 Award of Distinction. Volunteers are at the heart of healthy and resilient communities. They are ordinary people who every day accomplish extraordinary things. I would like to commend the 150 volunteers of Amherstburg who are being honored today for their valuable contributions. You are all remarkable individuals who have taken the time, energy and skill to supporting the health and well-being of your fellow citizens. You can take pride in knowing that your efforts have helped to build a better society for us all. Please accept my best wishes, Sincerely Justin Trudeau.”

The Canada 150 CanDo Medals of Distinction hang prior to the start of the July 1 ceremony.

The Canada 150 CanDo Medals of Distinction hang prior to the start of the July 1 ceremony.

DiCarlo explained how this anniversary marked a very special occasion, in that they are able to honor 150 volunteers and residents of Amherstburg with the CanDo Canada 150 Award of Distinction, which was broken down into three categories – Service, Leadership and Legacy.

“Each and every one of you have made a significant contribution for your fellow citizens and to your community,” said DiCarlo. “You exemplify our community values and you have made a definite difference in the town of Amherstburg.”

Fireworks erupt over the Detroit River at the conclusion of the Canada Day festivities.

Fireworks erupt over the Detroit River at the conclusion of the Canada Day festivities.

Special events support coordinator for the town of Amherstburg, Sarah Van Grinsven said the Canada D’eh run kicked off the day with record numbers, and they even estimated an additional nearly 5,000 people coming to Fort Malden July 1. Top that all off with gorgeous weather, despite a couple drops of rain, and it turned out to be a “gorgeous day to celebrate a gorgeous country.”

“It’s all work that is because we love this country and we love to help the town celebrate,” said Van Grinsven. “Reading the nominations and learning all the greatness that is in our community was just heartwarming and half the time when I was at my desk reading them I had tears in my eyes about how great people are. There is nothing better than this, it is crazy rewarding.”

Canada Day-25

Canada Day activities in Amherstburg proved to be a family affair for many in the area.

Amongst the award recipients was The House Youth Centre’s activities coordinator Rebecca Vander Vaart. She said as a peer support mentor, she believes in the program and the people who looked out for her as a teenager, so she has always wanted to be able to do that for other people.

“I think that leadership is sometimes getting your hands dirty, and helping out in the community,” said Vander Vaart. “It’s really exciting and I am just very honored to be sitting here with all of these other people that I admire and I look up to who are just movers and shakers in Amherstburg, and I’m excited that some people think I belong there.”

Community Living Essex County celebrates 56 years during AGM

By Jolene Perron

 

Community Living Essex County held their annual general meeting last week to discuss their achievements as an agency over the last year, as well as to recognize some outstanding members.

In attendance at the 56th annual AGM were a number of area mayors including Mayor Ron McDermott from Essex, Mayor Nelson Santos from Kingsville, Deputy Mayor Joe Bachetti from Tecumseh, Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale from Amherstburg and Mayor Tom Bain from Lakeshore. Bain, also the warden of Essex County, said it’s a huge team effort which is to what he attributes the outstanding results of the organization.

Also in attendance to show his support was Essex MPP Taras Natyshak. He said it’s is truly amazing to know that for 56 years, Community Living Essex County has existed in the community to provide support and love for those with developmental and intellectual disabilities and their families.

“It’s something that we should be incredibly proud of, but also something that I think inspires us to the core and not simply because of the nature of the work that you do, but because of the effect that it has on our broader community,” said Natyshak. “Looking at the involvement through the slideshow, that is incredible. I don’t know that there is another organization that is so involved in our community and is so important to raising awareness and bringing people together because we are only as strong as we can be when we lift each other up and we are certainly a stronger community because of the work that you’ve done.”

Community Living Essex County said goodbye to members Jennifer Fraser, who was with the agency from June 2011 to June 2017, and Eva Penner Banman, who was with the agency from June 2015 to June 2017. They won’t be going too far however and will be helping on committees and task groups.

Celine LaBrecque (centre) of Amherstburg was this year’s recipient of the Bruce Crozier “Inspiring Possibilities” Award at the Community Living Essex County (CLEC) annual general meeting last Tuesday night. Making the presentation are Essex MPP Taras Natyshak and CLEC 2nd Vice President Sue Desjarlais.

Celine LaBrecque (centre) of Amherstburg was this year’s recipient of the Bruce Crozier “Inspiring Possibilities” Award at the Community Living Essex County (CLEC) annual general meeting last Tuesday night. Making the presentation are Essex MPP Taras Natyshak and CLEC 2nd Vice President Sue Desjarlais.

The Board Members who were inducted onto the Board of Directors for 2017/18 are as follows:

 

  • Ron Giofu, President
  • Robert Tomek, 1st Vice President
  • Sue Desjarlais, 2nd Vice President
  • Erika Davidson, Treasurer
  • Diane Bourbeau, Past President
  • Michelle Mastellotto, Director
  • Diane Powers, Director
  • Ray Renaud, Director
  • Mike Siblani, Director
  • Chad Sutherland, Director
  • Nancy Wallace-Gero, Executive Director and Secretary to the Board
  • Scott Pratt, Director

 

Amherstburg resident Eva Penner Banman (right) is recognized by CLEC executive director Nancy Wallace-Gero last Tuesday night. Penner Banman, along with Jennifer Fraser, were thanked for their service on the board of directors.

Amherstburg resident Eva Penner Banman (right) is recognized by CLEC executive director Nancy Wallace-Gero last Tuesday night. Penner Banman, along with Jennifer Fraser, were thanked for their service on the board of directors.

After the business portion of the meeting wrapped up, a number of members were recognized for their efforts above and beyond.

The Bruce Crozier Inspiring Possibilities Memorial Award started off the awards portion of the evening. Presented to Celine LaBrecque, the award was created to recognize people who have made tremendous strides in their life while overcoming many obstacles. Sue Desjarlais and Natyshak presented the award to LaBrecque, explaining how active and busy she is in her Amherstburg community, and how she has overcome many barriers.
LaBrecque was born with complex challenges and experiences difficulties with speech and coordination, which she has overcome a great deal and today is an outstanding public speaker. She has given speeches on topics such as “Ending the “R” Word,” and she has spoken about the importance of inclusion. She participated in the Special Olympics as a rhythmic gymnast in 2015 where she won four gold medals and placed fourth overall in the world in Special Olympics Women’s Rhythmic Gymnastics.

The Jeremy Hart Memorial Bursary was presented to Kyle Girardin, someone who knew Jeremy very well. Jeremy Hart passed away suddenly in 2012, after which time his family established the award for Community Living Essex County, to assist others in achieving their dreams and aspirations, and to continue on with their education which Jeremy strived to do. Diane Powers, who presented the award, explained how Girardin has many goals he hopes to accomplish and will be returning to school to pursue a career in landscaping.

For the first year, the Kevin McMullan Memorial Award was presented in honor of Kevin McMullan who passed away May 3, 2016. The award was presented to Jackie Burney, who was recognized for her excellence in support and services. Her leadership, professionalism, innovation, teamwork, advocating for others, resilience, initiative, dedication and courage warranted her to be recognized for going above and beyond the call of duty.

Special Education Coordinator Lorne Rocheleau with the Windsor Essex Catholic District School Board was presented with the Community Inclusion Award. Presenter Chad Sutherland explained, creating welcoming and accessible communities is a shared responsibility, and the award recognizes those who have made a significant contribution towards the development of a welcoming and accessibly community.

“Through his work with First Choice – Employment, now Career Compass, Lorne has used his passion to bring employment to the attention of his colleagues at both the Catholic and Public School Boards,” explained Sutherland. “Many years ago Lorne was employed as an in-home worker for this agency. Lorne understands our goals, mission and vision of an inclusive community and is now a champion in the education sector for inclusive employment and indeed inclusive involvement of all people in all aspects of our community.”

One person from the North, South, West and Central geographical areas was also recognized for making an outstanding contribution to their community through volunteering, employment, involvement in clubs, participation in the community and making strong connections. Those recognized are as follows:

North Area
Kelly Thibert

South Area

Amber Reekie

Alvin Matte (right) receives the Outstanding Service Award for the west area (Amherstburg/LaSalle) from the area’s director of supports Anne Garrod. Garrod was also honoured for her 35 years of service during the  meeting.

Alvin Matte (right) receives the Outstanding Service Award for the west area (Amherstburg/LaSalle) from the area’s director of supports Anne Garrod. Garrod was also honoured for her 35 years of service during the meeting.


West Area
Alvin Matte

Central Area
Paul Janisse

 

Community Living Essex County has more than 700 dedicated and skilled employees. To conclude the evening, those with 20, 25, 30 and 35 years of service were recognized.

 

Celebrating 20 Years of Employment:

Martha Vukov, Support Worker, Central Area

 

Celebrating 25 Years of Employment:

Lori Huson, Manager, CL Supports, Central Area

John Neposlan, Support Worker, Central Area

Sandra Paisley, Manager, CL Supports, West Area

Dina Pawelec, Support Worker, Northshore

Celebrating 30 Years of Employment:

Karen Ruston, Admin Support

 

Celebrating 35 Years of Employment:

Lee-Anne Dupuis, Director, CL Supports, South Area.

Anne Garrod, Director, CL Supports, West Area

Amherstburg Freedom Museum recognized by Ontario Trillium Foundation at AGM

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Amherstburg Freedom Museum held its annual general meeting inside the Nazrey AME Church and the meeting included provincial recognition for the museum.

The museum was recognized by the Ontario Trillium Foundation for receiving a $45,000 grant under the Ontario 150 Community Capital Grant program. The money helped the museum complete the project to put a new cedar shake roof on the Nazrey AME Church with some of the funds also being put towards a new courtyard at the museum.

“We had a great year in 2016 and we’re looking forward to a great 2017,” said Monty Logan, president of the museum’s board of directors.

Dan Allen (left), chair of the Ontario Trillium Foundation’s grant review team, and Essex MPP Taras Natyshak (right) present Amherstburg Freedom Museum president Monty Logan with a plaque in recognition of the museum’s Ontario 150 grant.  The presentation came at the museum’s annual general meeting.

Dan Allen (left), chair of the Ontario Trillium Foundation’s grant review team, and Essex MPP Taras Natyshak (right) present Amherstburg Freedom Museum president Monty Logan with a plaque in recognition of the museum’s Ontario 150 grant. The presentation came at the museum’s annual general meeting.

Logan also pointed out the challenge to repair the church roof was assisted by a fundraising campaign, and thanked those who donated towards it.

Essex MPP Taras Natyshak recognized the museum, saying while he gets to honour those who receive grants from the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF), it is the OTF that does the bulk of the work.

“The importance of maintaining, preserving and sharing this facility – this place of worship – and all the stories within is immense,” said Natyshak.

Natyshak pointed out the church’s role on the Underground Railroad, stating people seeking freedom from slavery found solace and love at the church. He said it not only means a lot to the Amherstburg and Essex County communities, but the church means a lot to the nation as well.

Dan Allen, a member of the OTF’s grant review team, noted the Nazrey AME Church has been part of the community for 170 years and it has played a vital role for so many people throughout the generations.

The AGM also was a time to recognize volunteers, including awarding the 2017 recipient of the Betty Simpson Volunteer of the Year Award. That was presented to Carolin Harris.

“It’s an incredible place to volunteer,” said Harris. “It was humbling to receive such a prestigious award. It’s humbling because it’s something I enjoy.”

Harris, who estimated she donated 200 hours of her time in 2016, said she lives across the street and came to volunteer about ten years ago when she saw a need to help maintain flowers and plants the Amherstburg Fort Malden Horticultural Society had planted.

“Ever since then, I’ve been taking care of it,” she said.

Harris added her children have worked at the museum and said “I could never repay what the museum has given to them.”

“Without volunteers, we couldn’t keep the doors open,” said Logan, who also paid tribute to the museum’s staff.

Logan also pointed out the museum is looking at getting a new website and wants to digitize their archives to make them more accessible online.

Carolin Harris (centre) receives the 2017 Betty Simpson Volunteer of the Year Award from Amherstburg Freedom Museum curator Mary-Katherine Whelan (left) and board president Monty Logan (right).

Carolin Harris (centre) receives the 2017 Betty Simpson Volunteer of the Year Award from Amherstburg Freedom Museum curator Mary-Katherine Whelan (left) and board president Monty Logan (right).

“We’re really excited about that initiative,” she said.

The museum is excited to host the Amherstburg Freedom Summit this fall, he added.

Programming committee chair Philip Alexander noted the museum facilitated the photography of some Underground Railroad descendants for an exhibit called “North is Freedom.” It was launched at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and was later displayed at the U.S. embassy in Ottawa. Alexander also pointed out the museum housed a portion of the “Family Ties: Ontario Turns 150” exhibit and also presented Mac Simpson Awards to students Sarah Tesfay and Keenan Wilson to help them pursue post-secondary educations.

Fundraising chair and museum vice president Darryl Hogan said they have a $35,000 goal that they want to hit and noted the upcoming June 3 “Ribs & Ragtime” event is one of the ways they will do it along with the Emancipation Gala and the Walter Perry Golf Classic. He encouraged people to bring family and friends to the museum so they could see what it’s all about.

Curator Mary-Katherine Whelan said the museum welcomed 1,654 visitors last year including school groups and people from across Canada and the United States. She thanked the volunteers and staff for their work and believed one of the most important parts of their jobs is sharing the history and stories the museum has to offer.

 

Essex MPP not impressed with 2017 provincial budget

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Despite cash in the 2017 Ontario budget for a new hospital system in Windsor-Essex, Taras Natyshak is not impressed with what has been put forth by the Liberal government.

“In all respects, I’d say the budget falls short,” said the Essex MPP.

Natyshak, a New Democrat, attributes the hospital funding to those who fought for it. He said it “can be credited to the community for coming together.”

Natyshak said he continues to be a supporter of the new Windsor-Essex hospital system and that “we deserve this.”

“I certainly congratulate everyone who has worked on this effort,” said Natyshak. “It’s one victory in a budget that falls short.”

The 2017 provincial budget does little to aid those impacted by high electricity rates, he added.

“I saw nothing in the budget that will help people afford electricity costs,” he said.

The CEO of Hydro One makes $4.1 million annually while colleagues in other provinces make about $500,000 per year, Natyshak stated, adding that hydro should remain a public asset.

“That’s just ludicrous,” he said of the salary.

Essex MPP Taras Natyshak

Essex MPP Taras Natyshak

Natyshak said the budget “fails to acknowledge” the two million people struggling to pay for prescription drugs and said a youth pharmacare plan, that would provide free access to approximately 4,400 prescription drugs for those 24-and-under doesn’t go far enough. He believed it was “a piecemeal pharmacare program” and that it doesn’t address those over 24 years of age, including seniors who often have complex prescription drug needs.

Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath recently unveiled her party’s proposal to create a universal pharmacare program in Ontario, one that would be in place by 2020 if her party was elected in next year’s provincial election. Reports indicate that it would initially cover 125 essential drugs.

The budget is health care-oriented, said Natyshak, but it doesn’t do enough for area hospitals which have had to go through five years of frozen budgets. Funding will rise with the rate of inflation, he said, but that it still falls short of what is needed.

“There’s no commitment to improving access to affordable child care,” he added. “There was no focus on non-profit and affordable child care.”

The budget doesn’t do enough for precarious workers, Natyshak continued, stating the NDP advocates a $15 per hour minimum wage.

“By any standard, it’s still below what a livable wage should be,” said Natyshak.

Further enhancements in long-term care support are needed, he continued and the budget “does nothing” as it relates to school closures in rural and northern communities.

Continuing the widening of Highway 3 is also not included, with Natyshak noting that phase three of the project has been on the books since 2006. He said he was told it could be part of the 2017 budget and was disappointed when it wasn’t.

“Immediately after the budget, when I confronted the Minister of Transportation, I was told we’d have to wait a little bit longer,” said Natyshak. “I responded that we are tired of waiting.”

Natyshak promoted the NDP as the party that is “ready to take the helm and meet the needs of families.” He said they knew the Liberals were looking to balance the books but “what they fail to remember is they are balancing the books on the backs of the province.”

There are still people struggling in Ontario and when listening to the unveiling of the budget, he believed it was a case of too little, too late.

“This is a Premier that is trying to undo the damage her government has done the last 14 years,” said Natyshak. “There were pennies for everyone but no focus on eliminating the structural problems that exist.”