About us

Steering Committee for Barrier-Free Canada:

 

Donna Jodhan

Michelle Buckland

Anthony Tibbs

Charlene Young

Louise Gillis

Brenda Edel

Kevin Boutet

 

Brief Bios of the Steering Committee Members:

 

Donna Jodhan

Donna Jodhan is the founder and chair of Barrier-Free Canada. She is passionate about making the world more accessible for the children of tomorrow. She works on removing barriers to education and job opportunities. In 2000, she started a charter challenge with the Federal Government to ensure that Canadian government websites are accessible to persons with disabilities, which culminated in a landmark victory in 2012. Donna is a motivational speaker, presenting to academic and professional audiences across Canada. She also takes on community leadership roles, and spreads her positive energy through motivational writing on her Sterling Creations blog.

Affiliations:

Awards:

 

Michelle Buckland

Michelle Buckland is a seasoned and passionate Learning and Development Specialist, Accessibility Advisor and an award-winning Motivational Speaker. She has been in the Training and Development field for over 20 years which includes numerous training methods (e.g. blended, instructor-led, hands-on, e-Learning, digital, etc.) where she has worked in a variety of industries such as Government, Manufacturing, Education, and Consulting to name a few. As an Accessibility Advisor, she uses her expertise, advocacy, and accessibility legislation to help ensure compliance and provide services to organizations and the community to build and sustain accessibility and inclusion for people with disabilities. With this background, she has founded EMBRACE to provide optimal learning solutions and help build an accessible culture for employees, customers, communities and individuals who all hold unique capabilities and unique needs. Her speaking engagements have been given to diverse audiences in which she has a passion for helping others embrace their full potential – through professional development and as a motivating force for people who are striving for presence.

Michelle attended Ryerson University where she received her Bachelor of Applied Arts majoring in Technology, her Certificate in Training and Development (Adult Education) with Honors, a Certificate of Completion of a 6-week Management Consulting Training Program, as well as completed courses encompassing e-Learning, digital learning, and accessibility legislation/standards.

Awards:

  • Michele Edwards Memorial Award for Advocacy of People with Disabilities – 2017
  • Toastmasters International Speech Contest 1st Place – 2010
  • Celestica Merit Award – 2004
  • HOPE Award presented by Toronto City Mayor for delivering Public Awareness to a Canadian Top Best Employer – 2001
  • Management Consulting Training Program – 1999
  • Promote Diversity within the Government Sector – 1994

Special Mentions:

  • Ambassador for Epilepsy Toronto – 2003 to Present
  • Articles of Hiring People with Disabilities
  • Advocate at Queen’s Park
  • Education Representative at Annual Buskerfest Event
  • Featured in the media to Promote Education and Awareness of Recruiting People with Disabilities (PwD) and Integrating an Inclusive Workplace Environment – 2003 and 2007
  • Distinguished as a Guest Speaker through Speakers’ Bureau – on behalf of a non-profit agency – for United Way Campaign 2011 to 2015 (Audience Size: 25 to 250)
  • Ambassador for ‘Accessible’ Learning in the Workplace and Community – Ongoing
  • Certificate of Achievement: Competent Leader – Toastmasters International – 2006

 

Anthony Tibbs

Anthony Tibbs is a lawyer at Merchant Law Group LLP in Montreal, Canada. 

He is a graduate of McGill University of Montreal and practices both Civil and Common Law. Prior to this he completed a Bachelor of Commerce (Honours), graduating magna cum laude from the University of Ottawa. Anthony is also the Treasurer of Braille Literacy Canada, Chairman of Media Access Canada, and a past president of Alliance for the Equality of Blind Canadians.

Charlene Young

My name is Charlene Young, and I have been completely blind since birth.  I have a very rare eye condition called Degenerative Anophthalmia, where the eye starts to form and then it degenerates due to lack of blood supply.  Currently, there is no treatment option for regaining eyesight, but only cosmetic options. I have had prosthetic eyes since I was a baby.
 
I grew up in Rosetown, Saskatchewan and graduated high school in June of 2005.  I stayed on in Rosetown for a few more years and did additional schooling, taking the Computer Works course through the Great Planes Community College.  I then graduated from the Office Administration Program through Saskatchewan Polytechnic in May of 2016. I moved to Saskatoon in 2010, where I worked for five winters as a seasonal Highway Hotline Clerk for the Ministry of Infrastructure for the Government of Saskatchewan.  I also worked as a part-time/casual Switchboard Operator for the Saskatoon Police Service since 2011.  I have recently started a new job as the Assistive Technology Specialist for Vision Loss Rehabilitation, a CNIB organization in Saskatoon.
 
I am a strong advocate for persons with disabilities. I believe in equality for all people and work on breaking down barriers relating to misconceptions and stigmas that people like myself face on a day-to-day basis.  I have been a member of the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians (AEBC) since November of 2015 and I am currently the Secretary for the AEBC Saskatoon Chapter. I am also one of the founding members and a Director At Large for Barrier Free Saskatchewan.  I look forward to bringing my skills to the board for Barrier Free Canada.
 

Louise Gillis

Louise Gillis is the Current President of the Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB). She has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing.

 
In 1997, Louise became involved with the CNIB following sudden vision loss and served on their Advisory Board, Sydney District for many years. She became a member of the CCB Sydney Chapter in 1998 and served CCB at all levels and on several committees advocating for accessibility for blind/vision impaired Canadians. In 2010, she was elected to the position of National President and re-elected in 2014 and 2017. Louise has won several advocacy awards and believes in improving the lives of all Canadians.
 
Louise has served on a number of committees such as Library Committee; Media Access Canada (MAC), Coalition of Blind Rights Holders (CBRH) – of Canada; Consumer Access Group (CAG); WBU – World Blind Union; WBU – Women’s Committee, ILNS – Independent Living Nova Scotia; Society for Accessible Transportation – Sydney; Marine Atlantic Accessibility & Inclusive Advisory Committee; She represents the blind community at the Canadian Medical Association (CMA), Innovative Medicines Canada / Médicaments novateurs Canada, International Federation on Aging (IFA), and CADTH (Canadian Agency on Drugs & Technology in Health, 
 
Louise formed the first curling team for persons with vision loss in Nova Scotia out of Sydney Curling Club. She is a member of the Sydney Harbour Dragon Boat Club and her summer activities include hiking and Dragon Boat paddling.
 

Brenda Edel

Brenda and her husband have two adult children and she has been very active in her community life. Brenda is a strong community person and has been instrumental in community successes such as: bringing in a bus route into an area that was told would not get bus service due to the area being too new; Managed her children’s hockey teams for five years in both the boys and girls hockey leagues; Organized a rural Neighbourhood Watch; and assisted in the Rural Crime Watch in her community.

Professionally Brenda has completed the two year Hotel and Restaurant Administration Diploma through Saskatchewan Polytechnic.

  • 2017 to Present – Vice President of Barrier Free Saskatchewan;
  • 2018 to present , Vice Chair Unifor Prairie Region Workers With Disabilities;
  • 2016/2017 CNIB Champion, successfully lobbied for $500,000 from the provincial government to continue a sustainable Vision Loss Rehabilitation program (VLR);
  • 2012 – 2017 President SaskTel Employees Network on Disabilities (SEND);
  • 2016 Advocacy Training through the Ministry of anti-Poverty;
  • 2015 to present SAID Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disabilities) and DISC (Disability Income Spending Coalition);
  • 1995 to 1998 Chaired the SaskTel Children’s Christmas party;

Brenda has been an active individual in both the Saskatoon region an the Disability community. She became legally blind following a surgery in 1977 when she was a pre-teen. Brenda has drawn on her personal and advocacy experiences to bring an inclusive balance to the communities she lives in. She is a strong advocate for individuals with disabilities and works to ensure that people with disabilities have a voice in the policies, procedures, and life impacting laws that affect all of us.

Brenda is a wife and mother of two adult children and has been very active in her community life. Brenda is a strong community person and has been instrumental in community successes such as:

  • Bringing in a bus route into an area that was told would not get bus service due to the area being too new;
  • Managed her children’s hockey teams for five years in both the boys and girls hockey leagues;
  • Organized a rural Neighbourhood Watch group and assisted in the Rural Crime Watch set up inhercommunity;
  • Professionally Brenda has completed through SIAST, now known as Sask Polytechnic the two yearHotel and Restaraunt Administration Diploma;
  • 2017 to Present – Vice Chair of Barrier Free Saskatchewan;
  • 2018 to present , Unifor Prairie Region Workers With Disabilities Vice Chair;
  • 2016/20 7 CNIB Champion, successfully lobbied for $500,000 from the provincial government to continue a sustainable Vision Loss Rehabilitation program (VLR);
  • SaskTel Employees Network on Disabilities (SEND) President 2012 to 2017;
  • 2016 Advocacy Training through the Ministry of anti-Poverty;
  • 2015 to present SAID Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disabilities) and DISC (Disability Income Spendings Coalition);
  • 1995 to 1998 Chaired the SaskTel Childrens Christmas party;

Brenda has been an active individual in her community as well as an active member in the Disability environment. Brenda lost her eyesight following a surgery in 1977 when she lost her eyesight as a pre-teen. Brenda is very aware of visual disabilities; having a visual limitation since childhood and is very empathetic and focused on disability issues.

Brenda has drawn on her personal and advocacy experiences to bring inclusive balance the communities Brenda is involved in. Brenda is a strong advocate for individuals with disabilities and works to ensure that people with disabilities have a voice in the policies and procedures and life impacting laws that affect them.

Kevin Boutet

  • Born May 19, 1977 in Calgary, Alberta with Diastrophic Dysplasia (AKA Crooked bones dwarfism.)
  • Grew up in Manitoba and graduated high school from College Pierre Elliot Trudeau
  • Studied at University of Winnipeg specializing in administrative studies
  • Have worked as a customer service and sales representative for Air Canada since 1998-present and recipient of Air Canada’s Award of Excellence in 2017
  • Have held various Union positions over the years such as Chair and Vice Chair
  • Chairperson for Prairie Regional Council Workers with disAbilities Equity Committee within our union named Unifor, for the last 5 years (W.W.D.)
  • Very active in the community and organize 3 different sports teams; a co-ed softball team, men’s ice hockey team and a co-ed sponge hockey team
  • Loves animals especially his black Labrador named Boston