The weather was perfect. We were ready to parade through the downtown streets…after our walk from the Women’s Centre to our meeting place (1st SW LRT station). The groups and individuals present were ready to start as well, most wearing blue to support the movement and the rest wearing their costumes or t-shirts with their organizations logo. We came prepared; we wore our Women’s Centre tees with colorful leis, and played hand drums and egg maracas.
For the first half of the event we went with the OX Project to explore Stephen Avenue. As a fairly new immigrant, I was able to learn about the history of the beautiful landmarks in the area. I learned that the Flames Central building was one of the first theatres in the City and that the SportChek was previously a bookstore with a wonderful balcony on the other side (perfect for an evening read). We hoped the balcony hadn’t become a storage space. It was interesting to see how open spaces, that used to be free for citizens to access, were now all commercialized and limited to those who could afford them (poverty may also be considered a form of disability to a certain extent today as it creates barriers to accessibility).
For the second half, we paraded from Olympic Plaza to the Memorial Park Library chanting “Disability on the Move!”, “Loud and Proud!” and “Accessibility is a right!”. By then we had gathered a huge crowd of people interested in what was going on. We made our way to the John Dutton theatre, where we got our lunch bags and the presentations started regarding the Disability Action Hall and their supporters.
Present at the event were MLA Kent Hehr, Deputy Mayor Gael MacLeod, The Calgary Sexual Health Centre, Women Together Ending Poverty, Musician Silver, Calgary Poverty Reduction Initiative, Push To Open Society, Poets, Dancers and great repeat performances by Inside Out, Momo Mixed Ability and a film by the Ox I love CalgaryTour and the host of the event, Grant Neufeld.
It was a great way to spend my Friday morning/afternoon. Additionally, it was a great way to create awareness and learn about the accessibility challenges faced by those with disabilities in Calgary. I really enjoyed the event and learned a lot.
-Danisha Punja, Practicum Student