Members of the Minister’s Advisory Council for Children and Youth with Support Needs

Elder

May Sam (Vancouver Island) (she/her)
May Sam is a highly respected Elder who is called upon by many people in the community, particularly in the education sector. May was born in Malahat where she was raised by her father and aunt. Later in life, she moved to the Cowichan Valley. She has done workshops with SD63, Camosun College and UVIC on inclusivity, which often include pieces of her own story. In addition, Sam is an internationally recognized knitter. She has been knitting for 60 years, with her knitted bags being a major hit at the 2019 Indigenous Language Conference in Victoria. The Council is grateful to May Sam for her wisdom and warmly anticipates her guidance and leadership in this process.


Umbrella Organizations

Aboriginal Infant Development Programs B.C. (Vancouver Island/Province Wide)

Diana Elliott, Provincial Advisor (she/her)
The Office of the Provincial Advisor for Aboriginal Infant Development Programs (AIDP) serves 55 AIDPs in all regions across the province, through mentorship, resources, partnerships and supporting early intervention. As Provincial Advisor, Diana Elliott joins from her home office in Coast Salish Territory. Diana, herself, is Coast Salish from Cowichan Tribes in Duncan and Nuu Chah Nulth from the Hupacasath First Nation in Port Alberni. In addition to her wealth of experience on the frontlines, Diana values the intersections between her Elder's teaching and her daily work. The office of the Provincial Advisor supports AIDP workers throughout the province, harnessing early-intervention, health promotion and culturally safe, community-based techniques to ensure the early and life-long wellbeing of children, particularly where service gaps currently exist. A core resource to the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD), the Office of the Provincial Advisor believes that supporting early identification of needs and early intervention for children and family at risk are integral pieces of the early childhood development puzzle. The Council is grateful to welcome Diana, with her vast personal experience, combined with the wealth of knowledge and relationships held by the Office of the Provincial Advisor.


BC Association for Child Development and Intervention (Interior, Province Wide)
Jason Gordon, Provincial Advisor (he/him)

The BC Association for Child Development and Intervention (BCACDI) serves the various regions in the province by hosting a network of more than 30 community agencies that support children and youth with developmental disabilities. Joining from Kelowna, on the territories of the Okanagan/Syilx people, Jason serves as the Provincial Advisor to BCACDI. BCACDI participates in a variety of consultations and research projects to try and improve access to services for children and youth with support needs, and to facilitate evidence-informed practice in the sector. Jason personally carries a background as a Physiotherapist and is also a member of the Provincial Child Care Council. The Council is excited to welcome Jason and BCACDI, and their sector perspective on child and youth with support needs.


Family Support Institute of BC (Fraser, Province Wide)
Angela Clancy, Executive Director (she/her)

The Family Support Institute of BC (FIBC) is a family-led non-profit that assists and supports families who have a family member with a support need. Angela joins the Council from Maple Ridge, on the traditional and territory of the Kwantlen and Katzie First Nations, in her capacity as Executive Director of FIBC. She has held this role for 20 years, maximizing a long history of experience and education with families that face a variety of challenges that accompany having a loved one with support needs. FSI is unique in Canada as it is the only grassroots, parent-to-parent organization with a broad volunteer base where 100% of their support services are free to families. Angela brings a wealth of experience advising all levels of government, including the MCFD CYSN Framework, the MCFD Early Years Framework and the Inclusive Childcare Framework. The council is grateful for both Angela's particular advisory experience, her passion for diversity, inclusivity and equality, and the knowledge FIBC brings from working on the grassroots level with families and other organizations.


Progressive Intercultural Community Services Society (Fraser and Vancouver Coastal)
Devinder Chattha, Programs Director (she/her)

The Progressive Intercultural Community Services Society (PICS) is a Fraser Valley-based non-profit that provides a range of community services throughout Metro Vancouver, with a focus on assisting new immigrants, seniors, farmworkers, women and youth. Joining the council from the territories of the Coast Salish peoples, including the Semiahmoo and Kwantlen First Nations, Devinder Chattha serves as the Programs Director as PICS. She has sat in various community leadership roles and supported the Early Childhood Learning,Early Years and Child Care Programs at PICS. Both Devinder and PICS have received multiple awards and recognitions. One of PICS’ most notable projects in Early Years includes opening daycares and child-care facilities that employ early-intervention and culturally sensitive supports for families with children and youth with support needs. Devinder recently received an award in the Not-for-Profit Leadership Category at the annual Women in Business event in April 2021 and has also been selected to be on its Children and Youth advisory committee. Though PICS serves a wide range of families in the lower mainland, they offer specific programs for children and youth in families that have recently settled to the Metro-Vancouver area. The council is grateful for Devinder’s intersectional experience and looks forward to how she’ll bring a diverse and inclusive lens to the council.


Deaf Children’s Society of BC (Fraser, Province-Wide)
Lisa Meneian, Executive Director (she/her)

The Deaf Children’s Society of BC joins the council from Burnaby, on the territories of the Coast Salish peoples, including the Musqueam, TsleilWaututh, Squamish, and Sto:Lo territories. Deaf Children’s Society operates across the province using programs, support and information to families with deaf and hard of hearing children from birth to age five. In addition to being Executive Director of Deaf Children’s Society, Lisa Meneian is an Itinerant Teacher of the Deaf around the Province of BC and past Administrator of a Provincial Outreach Program and the BC School for the Deaf. Her years of leadership are complimented by front-line experiences supporting children, families, and educational teams across the province in both urban and rural/remote settings. The council is looking forward to welcoming Lisa in her capacities as a teacher, parent, community-builder, and Executive Director of Deaf Children’s Society of BC.


BC Parents of Complex Kids (Vancouver Island, Province-Wide)
Brenda Lenahan, Founder (she/her)

BC Parents of Complex Kids brings families together to support each other, and the council is excited to welcome founder, Brenda Lenahan on their behalf from the village of Tahsis on the Nuu Chah Nulth territory. Brenda is a mom to a young son with complex disabilities, which inspired her to found this organization in 2017 so that parents with experiences similar to her could network, share knowledge and advocate for access to equitable supports for kids with complex disabilities and medical complexities. The council is looking forward to including Brenda's many experiences and expertise as a parent, advocate, and organization leader.


Aboriginal Supported Child Development (ASCD) Programs of British Columbia (Province-Wide)
Jacqueline Watts, Provincial Advisor (she/her)

ACSD programs not only champion and advocate for children who require extra supports to be fully included in child care settings and/or their communities, but do so in a way that values and embeds cultural values, beliefs and traditions. With over 57 ACDS programs across the province, the Council is excited to welcome ASCD Programs of British Columbia and Jacqueline Watts, Provincial Advisor, as their representative. Jacqueline was raised by her Grandparents on the lands of the Tseshaht First Nation, where she now lives and works from her home office. With over 25 years-experience as a Senior Early Years Outreach Consultant & Supervisor and extensive experience working with First Nations, Government and Community partners, Jackie’s expertise at the intersection of early years and cultural sensitivity is an asset on the council and will help advise how we can best serve children and youth with support needs.


BC Centre for Ability (Vancouver Coastal, Province-Wide)
Joshua Myers, Executive Director (he/him)

The BC Centre for Ability joins the council from Vancouver on the territory of the Coast Salish peoples. With a strong reputation and long-standing history of serving persons with diverse abilities, since its founding in 1967, the BC Centre for Ability serves children with a variety of complex support needs and their families across the province. A social worker himself, with extensive experience on executive boards and in progressive leadership within the sector, Joshua brings familiarity with the core issues that affect young people with diverse abilities and their families. He holds an MSW from Dalhousie University and was awarded the Lawrence T Hancock Award from Dalhousie University for high academic achievement and promise of leadership in the field of social work. The BC Centre for Ability's mission to “lead in the design and delivery of community-based services for persons with diverse abilities" has proven itself in the person-centered and community-oriented programs for a variety of support needs, and the council is fortunate to welcome their perspective with Joshua's representation.


Parents

Aida Amilamia Gordon (Vancouver Island) (they/she)
Aida joins the council from Victoria, B.C., on the territories of the Lekwungen Peoples (Esquimalt and Songhees Nations), and the WSANEC Nations. Aida is the parent of a child with various support needs including Down Syndrome and complex health conditions. In addition, they bring invaluable experiences as a Development Services Worker, facilitator for a children’s rehabilitation hospital, and teacher. They also hold a Bachelor’s of Science (Hons) in Psychological Research, with a focus on Neuropsychology. Aida identifies as a gay, genderqueer Mexican immigrant. The Council is confident Aida’s diverse and intersectional lived experience will serve this council generously.


Laranna Scott (Interior) (she/her)
Laranna joins the council from Grand Forks, on the shared territory known as "the Boundary." Métis herself, Laranna holds a certificate in Early Childhood Education and diplomas in Special Needs Education and Infant-Toddler Education, culminating in a Bachelor of Arts degree in Child and Youth Care from the University of the Fraser Valley. She’s a firm believer in early intervention and created an “Ecological Model of Support” for her daughter. Laranna was awarded the BCACCS Aboriginal Child Care Recognition Award in 2017, which honours Early Childhood Educators acting as exceptional role models. The council is pleased to welcome Laranna in her capacities as a parent, educator and advocate for children and youth with support needs.


Dreena Davies (Vancouver Coastal) (she/her)
Dreena joins the council from Vancouver, on the territory of the Coast Salish peoples. Dreena is a mother of two boys with support needs. She brings the lived experience of many families in the province, navigating a variety of services to best support her sons and seeing the effects COVID-19 has had on critical services. A pediatric audiologist by trade, Dreena has always been passionate about family-centered and evidence-based practice. The council is excited to have Dreena and her dual perspective as both a parent and service provider.


Katherine Foo (Fraser) (she/her)
Katherine joins the council from Burnaby, on the territory of the Coast Salish peoples. Katherine is the mother of a deaf & hard of hearing child. She is also a teacher who is child-focused and family-centered, passionate about inclusion, equity and respect for diversity. Katherine is fluent in English and Cantonese. The council is looking forward to learning more from Katherine, who brings her experience as a teacher and mother of a child with support needs.

 

Lori Gauthier (North) (she/her)
Lori is a proud Indigenous mother and part of the Lhts’umusyoo clan (Beaver Clan) from the Nak’azdli Whut’en nation located near what is known as Fort St James. She is a single mother to four children with a variety of support needs, that include Autism Spectrum Disorder. In addition, she has worked for the Lower Similkameen Indian Band in the Southern Interior region of BC as both a Special Needs Teaching Assistant an Early Childhood Development Worker. She currently works as a Maternal Child Health Worker in remote First Nation communities in the Fort St James area. The Council is excited to welcome Lori and her experiences and expertise as an Indigenous mother with children who have multiple children with special needs, and as a support person for families in both urban and rural communities.


Youth

Izabelle Stevens (Vancouver Coastal) (she/her)
Izabelle joins the council as the youth advisor on children and youth with support needs, from Sechelt on the territories of the Coast Salish peoples. Her expertise so far has been defined by justice, human rights, advocacy.Through her experiences as a client with MCFD she has ambitions to go into youth mental health work. Izabelle identifies as a neurodiverse female who is a part of the LGBTQ2IAS+ community and believes her perspective can be helpful to the Council. She is currently studying at Capilano University and in her off time can be found exploring her passions as a performer and photographer or volunteering with the Rotary Club of the Sunshine Coast where she is a member. She is excited by the opportunity to promote positive care for children and youth with support needs who are currently navigating, many times with their families, the services available to them. The council is grateful to Izabelle and the rare, but important, experience and artistic flair she brings.