A number of individuals were recognized for exemplary service to their communities as the NWT Disabilities Council presented the annual Disability Awareness Recognition Awards at the NWT Legislative Assembly on Friday.
Closing off Disability Awareness Week, the awards recognize the accomplishments of people with disabilities in the Northwest Territories.
"Many of us take getting around the physical world for granted," said Charles Dent, chair of the NWT Human Rights Commission. "It's really important to recognize that you can't take that for granted."
The 2019 Minister for Persons with Disabilities Award
Dean McLeod from Aklavik received the 2019 Minister for Persons with Disabilities Award for making sure events in his community are accessible to elders and people with disabilities.
"With his position of 26 years as the community recreation co-ordinator, over the past three decades, Dean has been a strong advocate for the accessibility needs of persons with disabilities in order to ensure inclusive participation in the community," said Health Minister Glen Abernethy as he presented the award.
Accessibility issues are important to McLeod as his daughter is living with a disability, he said.
"Dean has taken his desire to ensure his own daughter is included and has created a culture of inclusion for his community," said Abernethy.
Community Champion Award
The Community Champion Award went to Tina McNeil of Fort Smith.
"Throughout more than 40 years, Tina has been of service to persons living with disabilities," said Terry Hawkins, chair of the NWT Disabilities Council.
Born in 1945, McNeil shares her cultural knowledge as a Cree-Metis elder with her community and those she serves at Uncle Gabe's Friendship Centre in Fort Smith.
"Through her work as executive director of Uncle Gabe's Friendship Centre, she has served to enrich the lives of countless children, youth and elders living with disabilities by providing hot and nutritious lunches, recreation opportunities and sharing cultural knowledge," said Hawkins.
The Accessibility Award went to the Hamlet of Aklavik. The municipal government has installed ramps at the hamlet office and recreation complex and has plans to install ramps at the community's curling rink as well. The award was received by the hamlet's SAO Fred Behrens.