Those who have worked toward creating accessibility for persons with disabilities were honoured with awards on Dec. 2.

The event, held at the Explorer Hotel, occurred one day before the 30th anniversary of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

One of the award recipients was Liz Baile, the director of student services for Yellowknife Catholic Schools. She was commended for her advocacy work for persons with disabilities for the more than three decades.

Julie Green, minister of Health and Social Services, celebrated Baile’s achievements.

“Liz shaped and advanced inclusive schooling through curriculum development, adapting learning environments, collaborating with students, families, and fellow educators… through her insightful and dedicated mentorship,” said Green.

After receiving the honour, Baile said she was overwhelmed by the award.

“The true champions are the families, and the children, and the youth that work and go to school every day,” she said. “They are the unsung heroes of how to make inclusion work.”

From left, Brian Carter, board chair of the NWT Disabilities Council; Emily Heeringa, volunteer for the NWT Disabilities Council; Denise McKee, executive director of the NWT Disabilities Council; Liz Baile, director of student services for Yellowknife Catholic Schools; Julie Green, minister of Health and Social Services; Rebecca Alty, mayor of Yellowknife; Richard Kresky, general manager of Canadian Tire on Old Airport Road; Charles Dent, chair of the NWT Human Rights Commission. Jonathan Gardiner/NNSL photo

Jason and Karen Butorac, co-owners of Canadian Tire, and the City of Yellowknife, were awarded for their contributions toward the Jumpstart accessible playground located beside the Sombe K’e Civic Plaza. The Butoracs contributed $100,000 of their personal funds while the city developed and provided the land and will continue to maintain the play structure.

Richard Kresky, general manager of Canadian Tire, received two awards on behalf of the Butoracs while they were away from the city. Mayor Rebecca Alty accepted the award on behalf of the City of Yellowknife.

Emily Heeringa was commended for her volunteer work for the NWT Disabilities Council after her eldest daughter was referred to the Early Childhood Intervention Program (ECIP).

“At this time, Emily began a journey that many parents do, to become an expert on her daughter’s disability,” said Brian Carter, board chair of the NWT Disabilities Council. “(Heeringa’s) determined to share her knowledge with other families and professionals.

“Even though her life can be extremely busy, she volunteers and advocates with families in our community to raise awareness about autism and sensory processing disorder, and to reduce stigma surrounding this disability.”

Jonathan Gardiner

After a tough break looking for employment in Alberta, I moved to Yellowknife in 2017 and became a multimedia journalist in 2022. I enjoy the networking side of my job, and I also aspire to write my...

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