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    International Day of Persons with Disabilities


    Michelle AmerieMichelle Amerie

    Michelle Amerie is an artist of many mediums. She is a sculpture, painter, photographer and writer. 

    She enjoys making her contributions to the community.

    Michelle has been dubbed Ontario’s Champion of Spirit by Berlex Canada, featured as a Soul Model in Chatelaine Magazine’s Women of Inspiration series, and has been chosen as a Volunteer of the Year by Flare Magazine. She was also recognized and received the prestigious  “Sir David Flavelle Award of Distinction”, “Access Award for Disability Issues”for the City of Toronto and was the 1st Inductee to the MS Society Volunteer “Hall of Fame”.

    Michelle has written articles for Abilities Magazine, and published work in It’s Okay, Feminine and Ability Network. As a keynote speaker, Michelle has shared her works on many occasions and in many different forums.

    Michelle is involved in a number of initiatives advocating equity and disability pride: The Canadian Abilities Foundation, Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada and Access Challenge to name a few. She promotes inclusion and active living lifestyles for Canadians with disabilities by facilitating communication and collaboration among organizations, agencies and individuals.

    A graduate in Fine Art from York University, Michelle has been greatly influenced through self-study, and her visits to the thrones of classical masters in the UK, France, Italy, Greece and Egypt.

    Michelle has had exhibitions in Toronto, Ottawa and Chicago and has been commissioned by individuals, organizations and corporations.

    Michelle’s journey has been unpredictable - even fragile at times.

    “I am not a painter, writer, or photographer... I am a chameleon - improvising, innovating and switching mediums to accommodate the constant fluctuation of both inner and outer worlds.”

    Madeleine MeilleurMadeleine Meilleur

    Madeleine Meilleur has been the Minister of Community and Social Services since 2006 and Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs since 2003.

    Thanks to her leadership, Ontario passed two new laws in 2008. The first law promotes the social inclusion of persons with developmental disabilities; the second law gives Ontarians access to open adoption records.

    Madeleine Meilleur plays an active role to ensure that the Ministry offers help to the people who need it most, including: women fleeing violence, people with disabilities, or those who are in financial need.

    In her previous role as Minister of Culture from 2003 to 2006, Minister Meilleur spearheaded efforts to introduce a new and strengthened Ontario Heritage Act, concluding thirty years of efforts to provide better heritage protection.

    As Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs, she has been committed to building stronger French communities through critical investments in education and health services, including the expansion of the Montfort Hospital. The independence of the French TV channel TFO and the creation of the office of the French-language services Commissioner are some of her many accomplishments that have benefited Franco-Ontarians.

    A registered nurse and lawyer specializing in labour and employment law, Minister Meilleur was elected to the provincial legislature in 2003 after more than a decade in municipal politics in Ottawa

    Jeff PrestonJeff Preston

    Jeff Preston was born in Port Elgin, Ontario. When he was just three months old he was diagnosed with Congenital Muscular Dystrophy, a disease that requires him to use an electric wheelchair.

    While the disabled population faces several unique challenges, Jeff has found that one of the biggest barriers to an inclusive Ontario is the lack of understanding and awareness of disabilities. Education is essential in creating a universally accessible lifestyle. 

    Throughout the years, Jeff has advocated for the needs of those with disabilities in hopes of a barrier-free life for both himself and others. He has delivered thousands of motivational presentations on a variety of topics including disability awareness, bullying and self-esteem. The word ‘can’t’ is not in his vocabulary.

    In the winter of 2007, frustrated by once again being left to walk home through the snow without an accessible ride, Jeff decided to set his sights higher and launch a province-wide endeavour titled “The Mobilize March” – a wheelchair voyage across Ontario to help raise awareness about the lack of accessible transportation across the province.  

    On May 5, 2008, with joystick in hand and pavement under wheel, Jeff began his descent from London’s City Hall to drive his wheelchair all the way to Ottawa. Stopping in cities along the way, Jeff took time to speak with members of both the municipal and federal governments, explaining the barriers currently facing the disabled while imploring them to increase support, financially and legislatively, to help those who were being left behind. Despite the odds, Jeff completed his mission, arriving in Ottawa on June 21.

    Jeff has been involved with the Muscular Dystrophy Association of Canada (MDAC), as provincial poster child two years in a row and the first-ever national campaign assistant. After his work with the MDAC, Jeff connected with Easter Seals Ontario, sitting as the Chair of the Provincial Council and Vice-Chair on the board of Directors.

    Jeff currently sits on the Accessibility Standards Advisory Council, advising the Minister of Community and Social Services on the development of accessibility regulations in Ontario.


    9 a.m. Registration
    10 – 11:45 a.m. Morning keynote speaker/ Accessibility Recognition awards
    11:45 a.m. – 1:15 p.m. Lunch
    1:15 – 4 p.m. Afternoon keynote speaker/ Participants roundtable discussion


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