CDSS in the Press

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Media Kit

The Canadian Down Syndrome Society is proud to represent Canadians with Down syndrome and their families. For all media inquiries, please contact Kaitlyn Pecson, Communications Manager at CDSS.

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Press Releases

An Open Letter to The Honourable John McCallum

Written by the Canadian Down Syndrome Society – Tuesday, 15 March 2016

An open letter to The Honourable John McCallum, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship:

The Canadian Down Syndrome Society (CDSS) is providing this letter in support of Felipe Montoya and his family, along with the numerous people from around the world who are denied immigration to Canada because of outdated and discriminatory policies and language regarding disabilities.

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The record of successful immigration to Canada for an individual with Down syndrome is poor. As a voice for families supporting individuals with Down syndrome, CDSS feels that the Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s (CIC) policy view of people with Down syndrome is obsolete, prejudicial, and in direct contradiction of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Canada’s current Immigration and Citizenship Act, states, “a foreign national is inadmissible on health grounds if their health condition might reasonably be expected to cause excessive demand on health or social services.” A fair and equitable review of any immigration application would focus on the individual contributions of the applicants, not generalities. Today, many Canadian with Down syndrome are going to post-secondary schools, working in competitive jobs, and when given the opportunity, are fully-contributing members of society.

A recent copy of a permanent resident visa assessment letter from the Government of Canada, stated: “The applicant has a diagnosis of mental retardation, in which case is one of the features of Down syndrome.” Down syndrome, in itself, is not a health condition, disease, or medical condition and should never be referred to as “mental retardation.” No one should be denied access to Canada based on the fact that they are a person with Down syndrome.

In March 2011, Canada ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Included in this convention (Article 18), it is clearly indicated, in part, that state parties, “shall recognize the rights of persons with disabilities to liberty of movement, to freedom to choose their residence and to a nationality, on an equal basis with others.” Further, it states that persons with disabilities, “have the right to acquire and change a nationality and are not deprived of their nationality arbitrarily or on the basis of disability.”

The Canadian Down Syndrome Society requests a review of the Immigration and Citizenship Act policy regarding people with disabilities, such as Down syndrome. We encourage the Government of Canada to amend it, to make it free of prejudice based upon stereotypes or inaccurate information related to the determination of Down syndrome. Discrimination of any person on the basis of disability is a violation of the inherent dignity and worth of the human person.

Sincerely,
Kirk Crowther – Executive Director
Canadian Down Syndrome Society

Brooks’ Brittany Orlita Receives an Inspiration Award from the Canadian Down Syndrome Society

Calgary, AB – March 21, 2016. It’s a daunting task for most people. Moving to a big city after graduation, with new rules, new people, and new routines. Like many people after graduating from high school, Brittany Orlita left her home in Brooks to move to Calgary to attend university. Unlike many people, Brittany has Down syndrome.

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For her courageousness and spirit, Brittany is being honoured by the Canadian Down Syndrome Society (CDSS). She is one of two winners of the 2016 Inspiration Awards, announced on World Down Syndrome Day (March 21, 2016). As an Inspiration Award winner, Brittany will receive a $500 bursary. The Inspiration Award aims to celebrate the community’s “unsung heroes” and to show the range that ‘See The Ability’ can encompass.

Brittany is in Mount Royal University’s Transitional Vocational Program. She works at No Frills in Calgary and volunteers at the Shawnessy YMCA and Beverly Centre, and attends acting classes at Inside Out Theatre. Her childhood dream to be in Shania Twain’s band came true recently – she sang with the country star at one of her shows in Las Vegas.

“Never underestimate a dream!” her mother wrote, in her nomination letter. Brittany was nominated by Maggie Theiss of Trinity Lutheran Church and her mother, Brenda. She was chosen from nominations submitted from across the country.

CDSS is celebrating World Down Syndrome Day by announcing the winners of the CDSS Awards. Other winners include the other Inspiration Award recipient Liam O’Brien from Port aux Basques, and Advocate of the Year winner, Jeremy Abramson from Ottawa, ON.

World Down Syndrome Day gives people around the world the opportunity to recognize and celebrate the contributions made by people with Down syndrome. It occurs annually on March 21 and is officially ratified by the United Nations. More information on World Down Syndrome Day is available on our WDSD page

Newfoundland’s Liam O’Brien Receives an Inspiration Award from the Canadian Down Syndrome Society

Calgary, AB – March 21, 2016. “If you are having a bad day just go see Liam.” This has been spoken in the halls of St. James’ Regional High School in Port aux Basques. Liam is a 17-year-old in his final year of high school.

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Liam has Down syndrome and is proud to inspire his community to See the Ability. He is the one of two winners of the 2016 Inspiration Awards from the Canadian Down Syndrome Society (CDSS), announced on World Down Syndrome Day (March 21, 2016). As an Inspiration Award winner, Liam will receive a $500 bursary, which he can put towards tuition, use to fund a special project, or donate back to his community.

Liam is an avid member of his high school community, voted as Student Council Representative by his peers. This year, he will be graduating with his high school diploma. He’s part of Special Olympics, competing and often earning medals in swimming and wrestling. He also loves music and can play the bodhran, tambourine, spoons and cajón; he has also participated in his school’s St. James’ Idol singing competition.

Liam was nominated by his teacher, Gail Spicer, his swimming coach, Jim Lane, and his mother, JoAnn. He was chosen from nominations submitted from across the country.

CDSS is celebrating World Down Syndrome Day by announcing the winners of the CDSS Awards. Other winners include the other Inspiration Award recipient Brittany Orlita, from Calgary, AB, and Advocate of the Year winner, Jeremy Abramson from Ottawa, ON.

World Down Syndrome Day gives people around the world the opportunity to recognize and celebrate the contributions made by people with Down syndrome. It occurs annually on March 21 and is officially ratified by the United Nations. More information on World Down Syndrome Day is available on our WDSD page

Ottawa’s Jeremy Abramson Named Advocate of the Year by the Canadian Down Syndrome Society

Calgary, AB – March 21, 2016. Every week, 26-year-old Jeremy Abramson plays hockey with the Special Hockey Heroes. He takes his job as an athlete seriously, bringing out the best in his teammates on the senior team with his passion and skills. He also takes his job as a role model seriously, mentoring the younger members on the junior team.

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Jeremy has Down syndrome and is proud to inspire and support other people with Down syndrome. He is the 2016 Advocate of the Year at the Canadian Down Syndrome Society (CDSS), announced on World Down Syndrome Day (March 21, 2016). He will receive a $1000.00 bursary, which he can put towards tuition, use to fund a special project, or donate back to his community.

“He is my hero. He has been a great teammate in hockey. He is a lot of fun. He has Down syndrome like me,” wrote William Green, one of Jeremy’s younger teammates, in his nomination letter to CDSS. Jeremy was also nominated by William’s mother, Elizabeth, and Jeff Kelly, the president and head coach of the Special Hockey Heroes, which is part of the Ottawa Police Association.

Selected from nominations submitted from across the country, Jeremy contributes meaningful change to people’s perceptions of disability and Down syndrome. Off the ice, he volunteers and works with different groups, such as the Down Syndrome Association – National Capital Region. He has attended Algonquin College, lives independently, and is a doting partner to his girlfriend of five years, Jessie Huggett, who also has Down syndrome.

CDSS is celebrating World Down Syndrome Day by announcing the winners of the CDSS Awards. Other winners include the Inspiration Award recipients, Liam O’Brien from Port aux Basques, NL, and Brittany Orlita, from Calgary, AB.

World Down Syndrome Day gives people around the world the opportunity to recognize and celebrate the contributions made by people with Down syndrome. It occurs annually on March 21 and is officially ratified by the United Nations. More information on World Down Syndrome Day is available on our WDSD page

Take a walk in their shoes and discover a world of possibilities – not disabilities – that will motivate and encourage you to learn more and get involved.