CSB Celebrates the Success of the Special Needs Symposium

The event was hosted by the Cree School Board. The focus was on providing a forum for parents and caregivers to connect with one another through a series of workshops, presentations, and opportunities for dialogue.

The Cree School Board hosted the Special Needs Symposium for Parents and Caregivers in Gatineau, QC from November 29 to December 1, 2022, in collaboration with the Cree Board of Health and Social Services and the Cree Nation Government, under the theme “Stronger Together” ᒫᒨ ᒪᔥᑰᑳᐴᑖᐤ.

The Special Needs Symposium was a special experience for so many people; we really focused on parent empowerment,” said Chairperson Dr. Sarah Pash.

With about 300 attendees, 14 workshops, 13 kiosks, two display rooms for an ideal bedroom and a calm room, presentations, dialogue sessions, on-site support, and a TEDx talk guest speaker from New Zealand, parents and caregivers of special needs children and adults were given resources and information about the services available in our Cree organizations and communities.

Beyond the workshops, parents and caregivers were treated to a supper and door prizes featuring talented special needs youth and other Indigenous performers who put on a fantastic show. Aidan House, Ezra House, and Jaydan Ratt were among the youth performers, as well as headliners Matthew Iserhoff Jr. and Wastaskoon.

Throughout the Symposium, an outdoor fire was made available so that parents and caregivers may enjoy the outdoors by sitting by the firepit with a blanket. The Symposium also provided transportation to the Bayshore Shopping Centre and St. Laurent Shopping Centre so that parents and caregivers could buy early Christmas gifts for their loved ones!

Catherine Rutherford, Director of the Department of Complementary Services, assisted with the symposium’s direction, and with the Special Needs Content & Logistics Team’s support, they were able to deliver meaningful dialogue and resources to parents and caregivers.

At the symposium, our team met with the parents and caregivers, and they voiced a desire for more days so they could continue to learn from the workshops and activities. "I really enjoyed coming, it helped us a lot as parents,” one parent commented in a survey, “I wouldn't mind coming again and do more workshops that I couldn't go to the other ones I was interested in.”

In the team’s closing letter addressed to parents and caregivers, they wrote:

We would like to recognize the parents and caregivers of children and adults with special needs for their tireless efforts to care for their loved ones. We hope that this Symposium allowed you to Come Together, Share Together, and Learn Together. Your voices are so important in shaping how Eeyouch with Special Needs are supported our communities. Thank you all to parents and caregivers for sharing your concerns and helping us shape the future together for our children and communities!

In the coming new year, the Cree School Board will be reviewing the information collected during the dialogue sessions and develop meaningful action plans. Stay tuned!

Cree School Board

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