Ditidaht improves access to community buildings, thanks to grant from Rick Hansen Foundation | Ha-Shilth-Sa Newspaper

Ditidaht improves access to community buildings, thanks to grant from Rick Hansen Foundation

Nitinaht Lake, BC

Three Ditidaht First Nation community buildings at Nitinaht Lake will receive upgrades to improve accessibility, thanks to financial support from the Rick Hansen Fund.

The Rick Hansen Foundation (RHF) announced three B.C. First Nations would be beneficiaries of grants as part of Indigenous Disability Awareness Month. Ditidaht joins Malahat Nation and the Seabird Island Band as recipients of grants that will allow them to make accessibility improvements to community facilities. The RHF program’s goal is to improve accessibility for people facing mobility challenges.

Ditidaht Chief Councillor Judi Thomas was pleased to share the news, saying that the grant will allow the nation to enhance accessibility and inclusivity within the community.

“This initiative aligns well with our values of iisaak (respect), uu-ah-thluk (taking care of), and dubayaax̣ a c̓awaaʔk (everything is one), emphasizing the importance of respecting diverse abilities, inclusivity, and mutual care,” she told Ha-Shilth-Sa.

Thomas went on to say that the Asaabuus Daycare, Community Services Health Clinic, and the Community Hall will receive accessibility upgrades in the near future.

“(This will) undoubtedly make a significant impact on the lives of young, adult, and aged community members with physical disabilities,” she said.

Upgrades will include things like added handrails, toilet grips, sloped walkways, signage, ramps, automatic doors, lighting indoors and outdoors, and countertop height, according to Thomas.

Beneficiaries of the RHF grants will receive up to $82,500 in funding to perform accessibility improvements to three sites that will meet the foundation’s RHFAC ratings, along with accessibility training.

According to the Rick Hansen Foundation, RHFAC is a rating program that measures the accessibility of a site based on the holistic user experience of people with varying disabilities. Some of these features include accessible entranceways, vehicle access, emergency systems, accessible washrooms, and wayfinding signage.

Also provided to the three grant recipients is Accessibility Awareness Training to foster a positive culture of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, as well as complimentary RHFAC training. This training will be offered through Vancouver Community College and will teach participants how to use RHFAC methodology to rate existing buildings and pre-construction drawings on their level of meaningful access.

Chief Thomas said three Ditidaht students will take part in RHFAC training at Vancouver Community College to improve accessibility awareness. Having trained staff in the village further ensures that the community is well-equipped to support individuals with diverse abilities, said Thomas.

“This will benefit members who have vision and mobility barriers, those who use wheelchairs or walkers,” she said. “It will also benefit seniors, parents with strollers, caregivers and those with temporary disabilities. It will provide greater independence and increased self-esteem for everyone impacted, including staff.”

“I’d like to thank the Rick Hansen Foundation, and everyone involved in this program for reaching out and giving us this opportunity to participate in this program,” said Chris Barker of the Ditidaht First Nation. “Accessibility issues are often overlooked, and I think this is the perfect opportunity to gain as much knowledge as possible to help improve accessibility in our community. We look forward to taking the necessary steps to improve access in our community buildings.”

The Rick Hansen Foundation was established in 1988, following the completion of Rick Hansen’s Man In Motion World Tour. For over 35 years, RHF has worked to raise awareness, change attitudes, and remove barriers for people with disabilities.

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