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December 4, 2006
City of Toronto recognizes unsung heroes, residents speak out at International Day of People with Disabilities celebration
Mayor David Miller proclaimed International Day of People with Disabilities today at the CNIB Centre and six unsung heroes were honoured for their contributions to society, part of many activities taking place around the city to mark Human Rights Month.

“It gives me great pleasure to recognize the valuable contributions and personal achievements of these unsung heroes,” said Mayor Miller. “We have come together to renew our commitment to becoming a truly barrier-free city - a city where nobody is shut out or left behind.”

The 2006 Unsung Hero Award winners are: Tom Rideout, nominated by the Ontario March of Dimes; Debbie Holmes, nominated by Laser Eagles Art Guild; Sol Wierzba, nominated by Bloorview Kids Rehab; Sharon Dever, nominated by Toronto Region O D S P Action Coalition; Mohamed Musa, nominated by Across Boundaries; and Don Peuramaki, nominated by Abilities Arts Festival: A Celebration of Disability Arts and Culture.

Today’s forum gave participants an opportunity to discuss how the Toronto Government can further enhance access to services, such as through income and employment support, affordable housing, better public transit and child care services.

Councillor Joe Mihevc, Chair of the City’s Disability Issues Committee and the Mayor’s Roundtable on Access, Equity and Human Rights said, “The City plays a leadership role in overcoming all forms of discrimination. We will continue to respond to the needs of people with disabilities, both in policy and in practice.”

The City’s 3-1-1 project director, Colleen Bell, told participants about plans to provide a one-stop customer service line to be fully implemented in 2008. She also discussed ways in which the City is improving access to its website and exploring new technologies.

The United Nations celebrates International Day of Disabled Persons annually on December 3. The intention is to rally support through greater awareness and understanding for the human rights of people with disabilities. The occasion also seeks to increase awareness of the gains derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.

The City of Toronto acknowledges Anne Johnston Health Station, Birchmount Bluffs Community Centre, BMO Financial Group, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Centre for Independent Living in Toronto, Inc., CNIB, Epilepsy Toronto, and Scotiabank.

Toronto is Canada’s largest city and sixth largest government, and home to a diverse population of more than 2.6 million people. It is the economic engine of Canada and one of the greenest and most creative cities in North America. In the past three years Toronto has won more than 50 awards for quality and innovation in delivering public services. Toronto’s government is dedicated to prosperity, opportunity and liveability for all its residents.

Media contact:
Claudia White, Social Services Division, 416-392-8962



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