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Members of the Advisory Group for Disability Issues


Dr. Gary Birch

Dr. Gary Birch is the Executive Director of the Neil Squire Society. He has been with the organization since 1988.

The Neil Squire Society is a national not-for-profit organization in Canada that has, for over 30 years, empowered Canadians with disabilities through the use of computer-based assistive technologies, research and development, and various employment programs. The Society helps clients remove barriers so that they can live independent lives and become active members of the workplace and our society. Specializing in education and workplace empowerment, the Society has served over 40,000 people since 1984.

The Neil Squire Society's headquarters are in Burnaby, British Columbia, with research and development labs in both Burnaby and Vancouver, British Columbia. Regional offices are located in Regina, Saskatchewan; Ottawa, Ontario; and Fredericton and Moncton, New Brunswick.

Dr. Birch holds a Doctorate in Electrical Engineering (Biomedical Signal Processing) and a Bachelor of Applied Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of British Columbia.

In 2008 Dr. Birch was appointed to the rank of Officer of the Order of Canada, Canada's highest civilian honour for lifetime achievement, for his work with the Neil Squire Society. In 2012 he was awarded the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal and in 2017 he was appointed to the Order of British Columbia, the Province's highest form of recognition.

Dr. Jewelles Smith

Dr. Jewelles Smith is a strong voice for disability human rights in Canada.

Jewelles has a passion for accessibility and engagement in democracy and has over 15 years of experience working in various capacities for elections both federally and provincially. Smith completed her PhD at UBC Okanagan and focused on disability rights and mothering.

Smith acts as an advisor on accessibility and intersectionality to both government and non-governmental organizations. She works as a private consultant and lives in British Columbia.

Christopher T. Sutton

Christopher T. Sutton, MBA, was appointed as Chief Executive Officer at the Wavefront Centre for Communication Accessibility on April 1, 2020.

Christopher has over 20 years of cross-functional and progressive management and leadership experience, working with some of the largest organizations serving people with disabilities in the United States and Canada. His career has spanned across the not-for-profit, public and start-up sectors where he has worked in various leadership capacities in business development, fundraising, government and stakeholder relations, marketing and communications, and sales.

Christopher holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Gallaudet University, and a Master of Business Administration from Ivey Business School at the University of Western Ontario, in addition to a number of professional certifications. He is a sought-after expert in issues related to accessibility, diversity and inclusion, and sits on several committees nationally and provincially. As a member and founder of various consumer/industry working groups, Christopher has been successful in enhancing accessibility and inclusion for a broad range of audiences. In 2019, Christopher appeared before three parliamentary committees to advocate for the passage of Bill C-81: An Accessible Canada Act.

Christopher was born with a profound hearing loss and grew up using hearing aids. In 2008, to expand his communication options, he underwent surgery to get a cochlear implant. In his free time, he volunteers with charities, mentors young adults and helps smaller organizations develop social enterprises.

Christopher enjoys travelling, visiting beach destinations, biking, cooking and reading. He was born in Newfoundland and Labrador and lived in Washington, DC, and Ottawa, Ontario, before moving to Vancouver, BC, in March 2020.

Danique Buissé

Danique Buissé became paraplegic in 2017 after a snowmobile accident. This very sudden change in her life opened her eyes to the barriers and challenges faced by individuals with a mobility impairment. She wants to be a voice that educates the people in her community about the importance of accessibility for all.

Danique studied accounting and currently works for the Franco-Manitoban School Division, where she showcases her financial talents.

Duane Morgan

Duane Morgan is the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) Vice-President, Atlantic Canada, and has been a full-time member of the CNIB team for 15 years. However, he has been involved in the organization for much longer than that. As a person living with significant sight loss, Duane became a client of the CNIB nearly 40 years ago and accessed services and volunteered before being employed with the organization. Duane knows first-hand the challenges and barriers that are faced by people living with sight loss. He uses his own experiences along with all that he has learned by working with many people with varying degrees of sight loss to help direct the development and delivery of innovative programs and provide powerful advocacy to change what it is to be blind in Canada.

Early in his career with the CNIB, Duane played a large role in establishing a Career Supports program to help fill a gap in services for people with sight loss seeking to enter the labour market in Newfoundland and Labrador. A few years later, Duane played a leadership role in a successful advocacy initiative that resulted in the Newfoundland and Labrador government committing to providing sustainable funding for vision loss rehabilitation services. In 2016, Duane moved to Ottawa as Executive Director for Ontario East. He has now returned home to continue his work in Atlantic Canada.

Hélène Hébert

Hélène Hébert was born deaf and is very active in the Deaf community in Quebec. She is involved with organizations such as the Réseau québécois pour l'inclusion sociale des personnes sourdes et malentendantes (ReQIS), which defends and promotes the rights and interests of people who are deaf or hard of hearing, both signers and speakers. She is also the National Francophone Director of the Canadian Association of the Deaf and an editorial page editor and proofreader for Voir Dire, a news magazine about the deaf world created in partnership with the Société culturelle québécoise des sourds.

Hélène retired from teaching in June 2020. She holds multiple degrees and diplomas, including a bachelor's degree in education with a focus in remedial instruction, a certificate in children's literature and a graduate degree in school administration.

In her free time, Hélène likes slowing down and enjoying life, taking care of her kids–even though they're technically adults now–and exercising to keep her brain and body fit.

Jocelyne Pambrun

Jocelyne Pambrun is a Métis Elder and Franco-Manitoban who actively advocates for the rights of Indigenous people and leads youth workshops to pass on knowledge from First Nations cultures, particularly her own Métis heritage.

Jocelyne works for The Link: Youth and Family Supports in Winnipeg, where she supports children and families in precarious situations. She has served in a number of roles with the organization, using her knowledge and expertise to help vulnerable populations. For instance, she developed a course for people living with multiple sclerosis and their families to support them in their daily lives. She has faced many challenges with MS herself and believes firmly in using her experience to help others.

Jocelyne participates in various boards and associations such as the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, Union nationale métisse Saint-Joseph du Manitoba, Eyaa-Keen Healing Centre and Chez Rachel.

Kory Earle

Kory Earle is the Past-President of People First of Canada.

People First of Canada is a national organization representing people with intellectual disabilities. The organization carries out its work through peer support, sharing personal stories, developing leadership skills, advocating for the right to choose where and with whom to live, and by ensuring that the voices of people with intellectual disabilities are heard and respected.

People First of Canada works to educate and influence communities and government to ensure that all people with intellectual disabilities are fully included and supported to live as equal citizens in Canada.

Earle also sits on the Accessibility Standards Canada Board, which is advancing accessible Canada for Everyone.

Michael Ciarciello

Michael Ciarciello is an educator and computer instructor based in Montreal, Quebec. He teaches students who are blind how to use screen readers, scanning and reading software, and other assistive devices used by the blind.

Mike's passion for music has defined much of his personal and professional endeavours over the years. Inspired by his grandfather's love for the accordion, and with his family strongly encouraging him to pursue his musical interests, he ultimately learned to play the accordion, piano and guitar. He works part time for Dancing Dots, a braille music software and assistive music technology company.

Mike completed a Master's Degree in Educational Technology at Concordia University.

Noah Uluuni Papatsie

Noah Uluuni Papatsie, a father of 10, a grandfather of two and a caregiver, was born and raised in Iqaluit. He did broadcast work for the Inuit Broadcasting Corporation until his accident in 1999. He started doing advocacy work for the disabled and is a former Iqaluit city councillor and contract worker with Inuit Communications System (subsidiary to IBC).

He volunteers with the Nunavut Disabilities Makinasuaqtiit Society (NDMS), advocates for the Coalition of Nunavut DEAs, has been a member of Inclusion Canada since 2009, is a board member at Maliganik Tukisiniarvik Legal Aid who addresses the rights of the disabled in family cases and is now a member of the Advisory Group for Disability Issues with Elections Canada.

Roxana Jahani Aval

Roxana Jahani Aval is a third-year law student at the University of Windsor, where she is pursuing a Juris Doctorate degree. As a young Iranian woman, Roxana continuously advocates for young voices to be heard in the disability rights movement. Roxana is the former Chair and member-at-large of the National Educational Association of Disabled Students. She works closely with post-secondary students to help them acquire accommodations, promotes accessibility on campus and aids students in accessing resources. Roxana received two Bachelor of Arts degrees from York University; one in Psychology and the other in Human Rights and Equity Studies, graduating with the highest distinction. She received the Marilyn Nearing Award for Outstanding Community Service from the York Support Network in York Region, Ontario. In addition to her volunteer work and education, Roxana is an artist, photographer and active Iranian community member in Toronto, Ontario. She plans on pursuing a career in policy with government.