Mayor Clive Tolley signed a proclamation on Wednesday at City Hall declaring October as Disability Employment Awareness Month (DEAM) in the City of Moose Jaw. The proclamation states that it is intended to “raise awareness about disability employment issues and will serve to celebrate the contributions of persons experiencing disabilities.”
The mayor was joined with statements from Raelynne Doka, Program Manager for SaskAbilities; Kari Ruiter, Executive Director of Inclusion Moose Jaw; and Heather Lentini, Retail Store Manager at Canadian Tire.
Mayor Tolley shared that he was involved in the employment field prior to becoming mayor – so this proclamation holds personal significance for him. During the press conference, he said, “I think it’s absolutely essential that people be able to meet their potential, and have jobs and work and earn a living, and feel that sense of independence that’s so important to all of us.”
Inclusion Moose Jaw is a local organization that works to support individuals with intellectual disabilities. The organization has support workers who work one-on-one with participants, and recently partnered with SaskAbilities to provide a position to one of their clients. Kari Ruiter, Executive Director with Inclusion Moose Jaw shared, “How amazing for kids to see somebody who looks like them, who has disabilities to be able to see that they can succeed, and they can be members of society just like their peers.”
Heather Lentini, Retail Store Manager with Canadian Tire, works in partnership with SaskAbilities to provide employment opportunities to people with disabilities. She shared her experience with how important these opportunities are. “I’m actually a mother of a disabled child […] Once you’re 18, there’s not a lot left – there’s not a lot of people who want to hire disabled people, and there’s so much ableism built into our society.”
Heather also provided insight into how employees and employers can work together. “We have had some people really succeed once we found the best way to direct them to make sure they understand their roles and responsibilities and what they’re needing to accomplish in a day.” She says it’s about finding what works for the employee, and that some people work best with verbal instructions, while others work better with a written list to have for reference.
Raelynne Doka, Program Manager with SaskAbilities Regina Moose Jaw, thanked Canadian Tire and Inclusion Moose Jaw for “sharing their experiences around diversity and for being champions of inclusivity.” She said that this year, Partners in Employment is on course to support over 100 people with building skills and their goals for employment.
Regarding the importance of the proclamation, she said, “This is showcasing that we are moving in the right direction in supporting and recognizing the importance of inclusivity and recognizing that talents of individuals with all abilities can be incredible contributions.”
Jeremy Faris has been working with Partners in Employment in achieving his goals since January of 2023. He recently got a position working to support Human Resources at City Hall. He tells other potential employees who are looking for help, “I just explained my situation and they were very supportive right from the beginning – like they never made me feel uncomfortable.”
He further shared “Everyone’s good at something, and people with disabilities are no different, so everyone deserves a chance.”
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